Cardiac and vascular structural changes in normotensive subjects with parental hypertension

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ObjectiveTo evaluate whether a predisposition to hypertension is associated with early cardiac and vascular alterations.SubjectsTwenty-five normotensive subjects with both parents hypertensive (group 1) and 28 age- and sex-matched control subjects with both parents normotensive (group 2).MethodsIn the two groups the measurements included: clinic blood pressure; left ventricular end-diastolic diameter, septal wall thickness and posterior wall thickness (by echocardiography); minimal forearm and calf vascular resistances (i.e. resistance assessed immediately after prolonged ischaemia, which depends on arteriolar wall thickness); and baseline and postischaemic radial artery compliance-pressure curves over the systolodiastolic pressure range (by echotracking device and finger blood pressure).ResultsGroup 1 had a slightly higher clinic blood pressure, and septal and posterior wall thickness, than group 2. Minimal forearm vascular resistance was clearly greater in group 1 than in group 2, whereas minimal calf vascular resistance was not significantly different in the two groups. Radial artery compliance was also similar in the two groups.ConclusionsParental predisposition to hypertension is accompanied by cardiac and arteriolar structural changes qualitatively similar to those found in hypertensive patients, although arteriolar structural changes do not involve all vascular beds. Arterial compliance is not altered in this condition. Vascular changes may be determined by mechanisms other than blood pressure elevation.

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