Scientific publications

A translational approach to hypertensive heart disease

Nov 23, 2009 | Magazine: Hypertension

Díez J. (1), Frohlich E.D. (2)

The spectrum of the cardiac complications of arterial hypertension includes heart failure (HF), sudden death, and cardiac dysrhythmias, as well as the exacerbation of coincidental diseases (ie, atherosclerosis and chronic renal disease).

However, knowledge of the cardiac impact of chronic elevation of arterial pressure has so evolved that hypertensive heart disease (HHD) may be thought as those consequences derived from left ventricular (LV) responses to fundamental disease mechanisms triggered by mechanical overload and neurohumoral stimuli. For instance, the longheld views are that LV hypertrophy (LVH), as the result of cardiomyocyte growth in response to pressure overload, serves to restore heart muscle economy back to normal and to preserve LV function.3 However, a number of alterations of the cardiomyocyte and the noncardiomyocyte components of the myocardium (including apoptosis, fibrosis, and changes in the microcirculation) also develop in HHD that lead to pathological myocardial remodeling not only in the leftventricle but also the left atrium and right ventricle.

These alterations may explain the overall risk of LVH and its associated cardiac and noncardiac complications in hypertensive patients.4 Although LVH may be detected early and accurately in hypertensive patients by electrocardiography and echocardiography, newer cardiac imaging methods and the monitoring of several circulating biomarkers hold promise as noninvasive tools for the diagnosis of myocardial remodeling.

Numerous clinical studies have shown that effective long-term antihypertensive treatment may be associated with a decreased LV mass (LVM), which has been attributed to diminished risk. However, no large study (or meta-analysis) has demonstrated that diminished risk from the contemporary reduction of arterial pressure by virtue of its a priori design.

Therefore, because overall risk remains unacceptably high, especially from HF, new therapeutic strategies aimed not only to decrease arterial pressure and LVM but also to repair and even prevent myocardial remodeling are necessary. Each of these aspects are reviewed in this article.

CITATION  Hypertension. 2010 Jan;55(1):1-8