Cardiac Organ Damage and Arterial Stiffness in Autonomic Failure: Comparison With Essential Hypertension

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Abstract

Autonomic failure (AF) is characterized by orthostatic hypotension, supine hypertension, and increased blood pressure (BP) variability. AF patients develop cardiac organ damage, similarly to essential hypertension (EH), and have higher arterial stiffness than healthy controls. Determinants of cardiovascular organ damage in AF are not well known: both BP variability and mean BP values may be involved. The aim of the study was to evaluate cardiac organ damage, arterial stiffness, and central hemodynamics in AF, compared with EH subjects with similar 24-hour BP and a group of healthy controls, and to evaluate determinants of target organ damage in patients with AF. Twenty-seven patients with primary AF were studied (mean age, 65.7±11.2 years) using transthoracic echocardiography, carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, central hemodynamics, and 24-hour ambulatory BP monitoring. They were compared with 27 EH subjects matched for age, sex, and 24-hour mean BP and with 27 healthy controls. AF and EH had similar left ventricular mass (101.6±33.3 versus 97.7±28.1 g/m2, P=0.59) and carotid–femoral pulse wave velocity (9.3±1.8 versus 9.2±3.0 m/s, P=0.93); both parameters were significantly lower in healthy controls (P<0.01). Compared with EH, AF patients had higher augmentation index (31.0±7.6% versus 26.1±9.2%, P=0.04) and central BP values. Nighttime systolic BP and 24-hour systolic BP predicted organ damage, independent of BP variability. AF patients develop hypertensive heart disease and increased arterial stiffness, similar to EH with comparable mean BP values. Twenty-four–hour and nighttime systolic BP were determinants of cardiovascular damage, independent of BP variability.

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