Wall stress and patterns of hypertrophy in the human left ventricle

J Clin Invest. 1975 Jul;56(1):56-64. doi: 10.1172/JCI108079.


It is generally recognized that chronic left ventricular (LV) pressure overload results primarily in wall thickening and concentric hypertrophy, while chronic LV volume overload is characterized by chamber enlargement and an eccentric pattern of hypertrophy. To assess the potential role of the hemodynamic factors which might account for these different patterns of hypertrophy, we measured LV wall stresses throughout the cardiac cycle in 30 patients studied at the time of cardiac catheterization. The study group consisted of 6 subjects with LV pressure overload, 18 with LV volume overload, and 6 with no evidence of heart disease (control). LV pressure, meridional wall stress (sigman), wall thickness (h), and radius (R) were measured in each patient throughout the cardiac cycle. For patients with pressure overload, LV peak systolic and end diastolic pressures were significantly increased (220 plus or minus 6/23 plus or minus 3 mm Hg) compared to control (117 plus or minus 7/10 plus or minus 1 mm Hg, P less than 0.01 for each). However, peak systolic and end diastolic (sigman) were normal (161 plus or minus 24/23 plus or minus 3 times 10-3 dyn/cm-2) compared to control (151 plus or minus 14/17 plus or minus 2 times 10-3 dyn/cm-2, NS), reflecting the fact that the pressure overload was exactly counterbalanced by increased wall thickness (1.5 plus or minus 0.1 cm for pressure overload vs. 0.8 plus or minus 0.1 cm for control, P less than 0.01). For patients with volume overload, peak systolic (sigman) was not significantly different from control, but end diastolic (sigmam) was consistently higher than normal (41 plus or minus 3 times 10-3 dyn/cm-2 for volume overload, 17 plus or minus 2 times 10-3 dyn/cm-2 for control, P less than 0.01). LV pressure overload was associated with concentric hypertrophy, and an increased value for the ratio of wall thickness to radius (h/R ratio). In contrast, LV volume overload was associated with eccentric hypertrophy, and a normal h/R ratio. These data suggest the hypothesis that hypertrophy develops to normalize systolic but not diastolic wall stress. We propose that increased systolic tension development by myocardial fibers results in fiber thickening just sufficient to return the systolic stress (force per unit cross-sectional area) to normal. In contrast, increased resting or diastolic tension appears to result in gradual fiber elongation or lengthening which improves efficiency of the ventricular chamber but cannot normalize the diastolic wall stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Angiocardiography
  • Cardiac Catheterization
  • Cardiac Output
  • Cardiomegaly / etiology
  • Cardiomegaly / physiopathology*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Ventricles / physiopathology
  • Hemodynamics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Contraction
  • Pressure
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Ultrasonography