Increased Myocardial Stiffness in Patients With High-Risk Left Ventricular Hypertrophy: The Hallmark of Stage-B Heart Failure With Preserved Ejection Fraction

Circulation. 2020 Jan 14;141(2):115-123. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.119.040332. Epub 2019 Dec 23.


Background: Individuals with left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and elevated cardiac biomarkers in middle age are at high risk for the development of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). However, it is unknown what the pathophysiological underpinnings of this high-risk state may be. We tested the hypothesis that patients with LVH and elevated cardiac biomarkers would demonstrate elevated left ventricular (LV) myocardial stiffness in comparison with healthy controls as a key marker for future HFpEF.

Methods: Forty-six patients with LVH (LV septum >11 mm) and elevated cardiac biomarkers (N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide [>40 pg/mL] or troponin T [>0.6 pg/mL]) were recruited, along with 61 age- and sex-matched (by cohort) healthy controls. To define LV pressure-volume relationships, right heart catheterization and 3-dimensional echocardiography were performed while preload was manipulated using lower body negative pressure and rapid saline infusion.

Results: There were significant differences in body size, blood pressure, and baseline pulmonary capillary wedge pressure between groups (eg, pulmonary capillary wedge pressure: LVH, 13.4±2.7 versus control, 11.7±1.7 mm Hg, P<0.0001). The LV was less distensible in LVH than in controls (smaller volume for the same filling pressure). When preload was expressed as transmural filling pressure (pulmonary capillary wedge pressure - right atrial pressure), LV myocardial stiffness was nearly 30% greater in LVH than in controls (LVH stiffness constant, 0.053±0.027 versus controls, 0.042±0.020, P=0.028).

Conclusions: LV myocardial stiffness in patients with LVH and elevated biomarkers (stage-B HFpEF) is greater than in age- and sex-matched controls and thus appears to represent a transitional state from a normal healthy heart to HFpEF. Although the LV myocardial stiffness of patients with LVH is greater than that of healthy controls at this early stage, further studies are required to clarify whether interventions such as exercise training to improve LV compliance may prevent the full manifestation of the HFpEF syndrome in these high-risk individuals.

Clinical trial registration: URL: Unique identifiers: NCT03476785 and NCT02039154.

Keywords: diastole; heart failure; hypertrophy, left ventricular; vascular stiffness; ventricular dysfunction, left.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Pressure
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Echocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / etiology
  • Heart Failure / pathology*
  • Heart Ventricles / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / diagnostic imaging
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain / blood
  • Peptide Fragments / blood
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stroke Volume
  • Troponin T / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Troponin T
  • pro-brain natriuretic peptide (1-76)
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain

Associated data