The importance of left ventricular hypertrophy in human hypertension

J Hypertens Suppl. 1998 Sep;16(7):S23-9.


Hemodynamic and non-hemodynamic factors contribute to the development of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH). The presence of LVH is an important independent risk factor for total mortality and for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Direct cardiac effects of LVH include an increased risk of developing of congestive heart failure, an increased risk of arrhythmic events, and a reduced coronary flow reserve, promoting myocardial ischemic episodes. In addition, hypertension may promote the development of coronary artery atherosclerosis. The prognostic implications of LVH underscore the importance of diagnostic procedures. The electrocardiogram has a high specificity to identify patients with LVH but the sensitivity is fairly low. Echocardiography provides higher sensitivity and also gives important information, such as the pattern of left ventricular geometry, which is of prognostic importance, and the presence of diastolic dysfunction, which is an early abnormality in the evolution of hypertensive LVH. Reversal of LVH appears to improve prognosis. Reduction of blood pressure is one important component in the regression of LVH. Important quantitative differences exist between drug classes in the reversal of cardiac hypertrophy despite similar antihypertensive effects, suggesting other factors to be of importance in the regression of left ventricular mass. LVH is reduced more by angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors than by other antihypertensive drug classes, suggesting an effect on structural myocardial changes beyond that provided by the reduction of blood pressure. Recent data suggest that angiotensin II receptor antagonists (AIIRAs) have quantitatively similar effects on left ventricular mass as do angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. A comparative trial of the AIIRA irbesartan and the beta-blocker atenolol demonstrated that despite similar reductions in blood pressure, the reductions attained in left ventricular mass with irbesartan were progressive and numerically greater than those attained with atenolol. Taken together, these findings provide circumstantial evidence for an important role of angiotensin II acting on angiotensin type 1 (AT1) receptors in the development or maintenance of cardiac hypertrophy. Confirmation of the favorable effects of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and AIIRAs on left ventricular mass in larger trials, including those assessing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, will be of major importance in the future treatment of hypertension.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Ventricles / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications*
  • Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / diagnosis
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / etiology*
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Ultrasonography


  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Antihypertensive Agents