Cardiac hypertrophy: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Annu Rev Physiol. 2003;65:45-79. doi: 10.1146/annurev.physiol.65.092101.142243. Epub 2003 Jan 9.


Cardiac hypertrophy is the heart's response to a variety of extrinsic and intrinsic stimuli that impose increased biomechanical stress. While hypertrophy can eventually normalize wall tension, it is associated with an unfavorable outcome and threatens affected patients with sudden death or progression to overt heart failure. Accumulating evidence from studies in human patients and animal models suggests that in most instances hypertrophy is not a compensatory response to the change in mechanical load, but rather is a maladaptive process. Accordingly, modulation of myocardial growth without adversely affecting contractile function is increasingly recognized as a potentially auspicious approach in the prevention and treatment of heart failure. In this review, we summarize recent insights into hypertrophic signaling and consider several novel antihypertrophic strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cardiomegaly / metabolism*
  • Cardiomegaly / physiopathology*
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Myocardium / metabolism*