Background: Heart failure is an important public health concern, particularly among persons>65 years of age. Women and blacks are critically understudied populations that carry a sizeable portion of the heart failure burden. Limited normative and prognostic data exist on measures of cardiac structure, diastolic function, and novel measures of systolic deformation in older adults living in the community.
Methods and results: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study is a large, predominantly biracial, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-sponsored epidemiological cohort study. Between 2011 and 2013, ≈6000 surviving participants, now in their seventh to ninth decade of life, are expected to return for a fifth study visit during which comprehensive 2-dimensional, Doppler, tissue Doppler, and speckle-tracking echocardiography will be performed uniformly in all cohort clinic visit participants. The following objectives will be addressed: (1) to characterize cardiac structural and functional abnormalities among the elderly and to determine how they differ by sex and race/ethnicity, (2) to determine the relationship between ventricular and vascular abnormalities, and (3) to prospectively examine the extent to which these noninvasive measures associate with incident heart failure.
Conclusions: We describe the design, imaging acquisition and analysis methods, and quality assurance metrics for echocardiography in visit 5 of the ARIC cohort. A better understanding of the differences in cardiac structure and function through the spectrum of heart failure stages in elderly persons generally, and between sexes and racial/ethnic groups specifically, will deepen our understanding of the pathophysiology driving heart failure progression in these at-risk populations and may inform novel prevention or therapeutic strategies.
Keywords: aging; echocardiography; epidemiology.