Objectives: This study examined left ventricular performance in relatively unselected hypertensive patients by use of physiologically appropriate midwall shortening/end-systolic stress relations.
Background: Supranormal left ventricular function has been reported in hypertensive patients, possibly due to an artifact of mismatching endocardial rather than midwall fractional shortening to mean left ventricular end-systolic stress.
Methods: Samples of 474 hypertensive patients (150 women, 324 men) and 140 normal subjects (68 women, 72 men) were drawn from a large urban employed population. The inverse relations (p < 0.0001) of both echocardiographic endocardial and midwall fractional shortening to end-systolic stress in normal subjects were used to calculate the ratios of observed to predicted endocardial and midwall fractional shortening in hypertensive patients. Midwall shortening was calculated from an elliptic model, taking into account the epicardial migration of the midwall during systole.
Results: Use of midwall fractional shortening in hypertensive patients reduced the proportion of patients with function above the 95th percentile of normal from 22% to 4% (p < 0.0001) and fractional shortening as a percent of predicted from 107% (p < 0.001 vs. 100% in normotensive control subjects) to 95% (p < 0.0001; p < 0.001 vs. 101% in normotensive control subjects). Midwall shortening was below the 5th percentile of normal in 16% of hypertensive patients instead of 2% with endocardial shortening (p < 0.0001): They tended to be older than other hypertensive patients and had concentric left ventricular hypertrophy. Among hypertensive patients, those with concentric left ventricular hypertrophy or remodeling had reduced midwall shortening as a percent of predicted from end-systolic stress (p < 0.0001).
Conclusions: Use of the physiologically more appropriate midwall shortening/end-systolic stress relation 1) markedly reduces the proportion of hypertensive subjects identified as having high endocardial left ventricular function; and 2) identifies a substantial subgroup of patients with reduced left ventricular function who have concentric geometry of the left ventricle, a pattern associated with high cardiovascular risk.