Background: Even when heart failure has not yet become clinically manifest, preclinical ventricular dysfunction may be present, and therapeutic interventions introduced at this time may reduce morbidity and mortality. However, data on the predictive value of echocardiographic characteristics in the general population remain relatively scarce.
Methods: The Rotterdam Study is a population-based cohort study in men and women aged >or=55 years. Participants with prevalent heart failure, myocardial infarction and atrial fibrillation and flutter at the time of echocardiography were excluded. Structural, systolic and diastolic parameters were assessed using two-dimensional, M-mode and Doppler echocardiography. Echocardiograms were available in 4425 participants.
Results: During a mean follow-up of 3.0 years, 226 participants died. Increased left ventricular mass was an independent risk factor for all-cause mortality, particularly in men (hazard ratio per standard deviation of natural log transformed left ventricular mass, 1.20 (95% CI, 1.01-1.43)). Fractional shortening and left ventricular systolic function did not show a clear association with mortality. E/A ratio <0.75 was an independent risk factor in men (age-adjusted hazard ratio 1.82 (95% CI 1.23-2.69)). This was further reflected by diastolic function: impaired relaxation was a risk factor in men, but not in women.
Conclusions: Structural and diastolic echocardiographic parameters are associated with all-cause mortality in an asymptomatic population. However, the evidence is still inadequate to support the usefulness of echocardiography for screening to identify asymptomatic individuals with preclinical ventricular dysfunction.