Background: The value of performing echocardiography in hypertensive patients with electrocardiographic left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) is uncertain.
Methods: Baseline echo- and electrocardiographic data and cardiovascular events over 4.8 years study treatment were assessed in 922 hypertensive patients in the Losartan Intervention For Endpoint reduction in hypertension echocardiography substudy. Patients were grouped according to presence of LVH on both electrocardiogram (ECG) and echocardiogram (n = 515), only on ECG (n = 172), only on echocardiogram (n = 135), or on none tests (n = 100). LVH was diagnosed by Sokolow Lyon and Cornell product criteria by electrocardiography and as LV mass index >116 g/m(2) in men and >104 g/m(2) in women by echocardiography.
Results: Patients with LVH on both tests were older, had higher systolic blood pressure and LV mass, lower LV systolic function, and included more patients with aortic regurgitation, albuminuria, and history of ischemic heart disease (all P < 0.05). Incidence of combined myocardial infarction, stroke, or cardiovascular death did not differ between groups. Incidence of hospitalization for heart failure was 5.3 and 2.6 times higher in patients with LVH on both tests compared to patients with LVH on ECG or echocardiogram only (P < 0.01). In Cox regression, LVH on both tests predicted hospitalization for heart failure (hazard ratio 4.29 (95% confidence interval 1.26-14.65), P = 0.020) independent of other covariates including study treatment allocation and history of ischemic heart disease.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that combining LVH assessment on a single ECG and echocardiogram provides a simple tool for additional heart failure risk stratification in asymptomatic high-risk hypertensive patients.