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The aims of this study were to provide cross-sectional data on echocardiography in Nigerians with normotension, essential hypertension and hypertensive heart failure, and to correlate the echocardiographic indices with treadmill functional capacity.M-mode and two-dimensional echocardiography and a Bruce protocol treadmill test were undertaken in Nigerians with essential hypertension (n=22) and hypertensive heart failure (n=12), and in matched healthy volunteers (n=15).A striking echocardiographic feature was the tendency to eccentric or asymmetric left ventricular hypertrophy in Nigerians. The septum to posterior wall ratios were 1.4±0.1 in the normotensives, 1.6±0.1 in the hypertensives and 1.5 =0.1 in the heart failure group. There was a progressive increase in left ventricular mass index and a reduction in fractional fibre shortening in the hypertensive spectrum. Treadmill exercise capacity also showed a progressive fall from normotensives through hypertensives to the heart failure group. A significant positive correlation was found between fractional fibre shortening and treadmill time in the heart failure group.In Nigerians with hypertensive heart disease, there was a striking tendency for eccentric (asymmetric) rather than concentric left ventricular hypertrophy. Systolic left ventricular contractility may be predictive of treadmill exercise capacity in hypertensives.