Incidence and prevalence of abdominal obesity (AO) are growing exponentially. Subjects with AO are at higher risk of developing heart failure. The purpose of the study was to investigate early changes in cardiac and arterial structure and function and extracellular matrix biomarkers in normotensive healthy subjects with AO. Subjects with AO and age- and sex-matched controls underwent echocardiography, MRI (cardiac remodeling index), carotid intima-media thickness, pulse wave velocity, and blood fibrosis biomarkers measurements. We enrolled 87 subjects with AO and 53 controls. Although normotensive, subjects with AO had higher systolic blood pressure (BP; 122±11 versus 116±11 mm Hg; P=0.003), left ventricular mass (94±24 versus 84±21 g; P=0.034), and cardiac remodeling index (0.67±0.16 versus 0.60±0.10 g/mL; P=0.026) but unchanged carotid intima-media thickness and pulse wave velocity. Diastolic dysfunction (E' <10 cm/s) could be detected in 38% of subjects with AO (4% in controls). Left ventricular remodeling, as assessed by cardiac remodeling index, was positively and independently associated with higher BP (systolic BP and mean arterial pressure but not diastolic BP) and AO. Higher BP, AO, and procollagen-III-N-terminal peptide (≥2.4 ng/mL) concentrations (odds ratio, 4.15 [1.42-12.2]; P=0.01) were positively associated with diastolic dysfunction. Early cardiac structural remodeling, fibrosis, and diastolic dysfunction were detectable in healthy subjects with AO. Higher BP, procollagen-III-N-terminal peptide, and AO were independently associated with early cardiac structural and functional changes. It is to be investigated whether in subjects with AO, an early BP reduction, even if normotensive, combined with weight loss may avoid adverse cardiac remodeling and protect against progression to heart failure.
Keywords: blood pressure; heart failure, diastolic; obesity, abdominal; procollagen; ventricular remodeling.