Background: Epidemiologic studies have shown that left ventricular hypertrophy is often found in the absence of an elevated cardiac workload. To investigate whether such hypertrophy is determined in part by genetic factors, we studied the association between this condition, as assessed by electrocardiographic criteria, and a deletion (D)-insertion (I) polymorphism of the angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) gene.
Methods: A population-based random sample of 711 women and 717 men 45 to 59 years of age was studied cross-sectionally in Augsburg, Germany. Electrocardiographic indexes, including the Sokolow-Lyon index, Minnesota Code 3.1, and the Rautaharju equations, were used to detect left ventricular hypertrophy. The status of the ACE gene with respect to the deletion-insertion allele was determined by the polymerase chain reaction in all subjects with left ventricular hypertrophy and an identical number of control subjects without the condition who were matched for age, sex, and blood-pressure status.
Results: We identified 141 women and 149 men with evidence of left ventricular hypertrophy. Among these subjects, an excess were homozygous for the D allele of the ACE gene (odds ratio, 1.76; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.22 to 2.53; P = 0.003). The association of the DD genotype with left ventricular hypertrophy was stronger in men (odds ratio, 2.63; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.50 to 4.64; P < 0.001) than in women and was most prominent when blood-pressure measurements were normal (odds ratio, 4.05; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.76 to 9.28; P = 0.001). This association was evident for each of the scores recorded in the electrocardiographic testing for left ventricular hypertrophy.
Conclusions: The findings suggest that left ventricular hypertrophy is partially determined by genetic disposition. They identify the DD genotype of ACE as a potential genetic marker associated with an elevated risk of left ventricular hypertrophy in middle-aged men.