Left atrial (LA) enlargement is an index of adverse cardiovascular events. We sought to investigate any possible correlation between haemodynamic load, neurohumoral factors and LA size in the early stages of essential hypertension.Methods
We studied 94 consecutive middle-aged subjects, with newly diagnosed stage I–II essential hypertension without left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy and 34 age and sex-matched normotensive individuals. Ambulatory blood pressure (BP) monitoring, plasma levels of brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), metabolic profile and left atrial volume index (LAVI), an echocardiographic measurement of LA volume indexed for the body surface area, constituted the work-up of all subjects.Results
Hypertensive compared with normotensive subjects had significantly increased office and ambulatory systolic and diastolic BP (P < 0.0001 for all cases) as well as body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio (P < 0.05 for both cases). BNP levels were greater in hypertensive compared with normotensive subjects but were not statistically significant (20.4 versus 17.1 pg/ml, P = NS). Hypertensive compared with normotensive subjects also had significantly increased LV mass index (105 versus 84 g/m2, P < 0.0001), LA diameter (39 versus 36 mm, P < 0.0001), and LAVI (22 versus 19 ml/m2, P < 0.05). In the hypertensive population, LAVI exhibited significant positive relationships with office systolic BP, ambulatory pulse pressure, LV mass index and BNP. In multiple linear regression analysis only LV mass index and BNP were significantly associated with LAVI (beta = 0.298, P = 0.030 and beta = 0.322, P = 0.009, respectively).Conclusions
Increased LAVI, closely associated with LV mass index and BNP, was still found in the early stages of essential hypertension. However, the clinical significance of these findings remains to be elucidated in future studies.