Increased sympathetic activity may be an underlying mechanism in cardiovascular disease. It has been hypothesized that the degree of left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy is partly related to the blood pressure level, and partly to neurohormonal factors. The aim of this study was to investigate predictors of LV mass, including arterial plasma noradrenaline as an index of sympathetic activity, with particular emphasis on subjects who developed hypertension over a period of 20 years.Methods
In a 20-year prospective study of middle-aged men, sustained hypertensives (n = 22), new hypertensives (crossovers) (n = 17) and sustained normotensives (controls) (n = 17) were examined both at baseline and after 20 years of follow-up (at ages 42.1 ± 0.5 and 62.3 ± 0.6 years, respectively). Relationships between arterial plasma catecholamines, blood pressure and body mass index at baseline to left ventricular parameters by echocardiography at follow-up were investigated.Results
Groups were homogeneous regarding age, gender, race and body build. The group of sustained hypertensives had significantly more LV hypertrophy (P = 0.025) and diastolic dysfunction (P = 0.010). Among the crossovers, LV mass index was positively correlated to arterial plasma noradrenaline (r = 0.50, P = 0.043) and body mass index (BMI) (r = 0.51, P = 0.039) and showed a positive trend with systolic blood pressure (SBP) at baseline. Arterial plasma noradrenaline (β = 0.47) was found to predict LV mass index after 20 years independently of BMI (β = 0.45) and SBP (β = 0.22) at baseline (R2 adjusted = 0.345, P = 0.037). Such a relationship was not found in the controls or in the sustained hypertensives, of which 16 were treated with antihypertensive drugs.Conclusions
Arterial plasma noradrenaline at baseline, as an index of sympathetic activity, predicts LV mass at follow-up independently of systolic blood pressure and body build in middle-aged men who developed hypertension over a period of 20 years.