Parallel cardiac and vascular adaptation in hypertension.
BACKGROUND Although vascular damage in the noncoronary circulation is a major cause of complications in hypertension, relatively little is known of the in vivo geometry and function of the arterial circulation in patients with uncomplicated hypertension or of their relation to left ventricular hypertrophy, a marker of enhanced risk of cardiovascular complications.
METHODS AND RESULTS Wall thickness and internal diameter of the common carotid artery and the presence of atherosclerosis within the extracranial carotid arteries were determined by ultrasound in 43 asymptomatic hypertensive patients and 43 normotensive subjects matched for sex, age, and body size. Vascular stiffness was estimated from simultaneous superimposed carotid pressure waveforms obtained with an external solid-state transducer. Left ventricular size and function were determined echocardiographically. Compared with normal subjects, hypertensive patients had greater left ventricular absolute and relative wall thicknesses, left ventricular mass, and carotid absolute and relative wall thicknesses (p < 0.005). Carotid intimal-medial thickness exceeded the 95th percentile of normal values in 28% of hypertensive patients (p < 0.01). Carotid atherosclerosis was equally prevalent within the two blood pressure groups and was associated with older age, larger left ventricular and carotid wall thicknesses, and carotid diameter. Despite similar carotid pulse pressures, vascular stiffness was significantly increased in the hypertensive patients. Among the population as a whole, significant relations existed between cardiac and vascular wall thicknesses and internal dimensions. In multivariate analyses, these relations were statistically independent of age and blood pressure.
CONCLUSIONS The present study documents the presence of geometric and functional changes within the common carotid artery in uncomplicated hypertension that parallel findings within the left ventricle. The potential contribution of these changes to the cardiovascular complications of hypertension, particularly in the setting of left ventricular hypertrophy, is unknown.
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association