Thickening of heart's right ventricle could foreshadow heart failure and cardiovascular death in heart-healthy patients

September 10, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania report in a new study that thickening of the heart's right ventricle is associated with an increased risk of heart failure and cardiovascular death in patients without clinical cardiovascular disease at baseline. The study is published online ahead of print in the journal Circulation.

"In most studies of the heart, researchers have focused on the more-easily-imaged , the region of the heart affected by systemic high blood pressure and other common conditions," said study author Steven Kawut, M.D., M.S., associate professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and director of the Pulmonary Vascular Disease Program at Penn.  "But we know from the results of this study and previous work that focusing attention on the (RV) is critical in our understanding of many conditions of the heart and lungs. This research revealed that approximately one in 10 events and cardiovascular deaths may be attributed to thickening of the RV in adults without clinical cardiovascular disease at baseline."

The researchers examined (CMR) images of the right ventricles of 4,144 men and women, average age 61, participating in the Multi- of Atherosclerosis (MESA). The MESA is a multicenter research project tracking the development of cardiovascular disease in 6,814 Caucasians, African-Americans, Hispanics and Chinese-Americans who did not have clinically-diagnosed heart disease at the beginning of the study.

Participants with RV hypertrophy (or abnormal thickening of the RV) had double the risk of heart failure or death compared to those with normal RV size. This association persisted after adjustment for age, sex, race/ethnicity, , education, smoking status, and other clinical indicators. This relationship was strongest in those with average or lower left ventricular mass. 

"These findings run counter to the traditional belief that for otherwise-healthy adults, the RV plays a limited role in clinical heart failure," said Kawut, who is also a member of the Penn Cardiovascular Institute. "The strong association our study found warrants further studies of the role of the RV in contributing to the risk of adverse outcomes. The MESA has repeated CMR images in these same participants ten years later, so our next goals are to understand the changes in the RV over time and how this tracks with how adults feel, function, and survive."

Explore further: Size, strength of heart's right side differs by age, gender, race/ethnicity

More information: doi: 10.1161/​CIRCULATIONAHA.112.092544

Related Stories

Recommended for you

No new heart muscle cells in mice after the newborn period

November 5, 2015

A new study from Sweden's Karolinska Institutet shows that new heart muscle cells in mice are mainly formed directly after birth. After the neonatal period the number of heart muscle cells does not change, and A new study ...

Nanotechnology could spur new heart treatment

October 29, 2015

A new nanoparticle developed by University of Michigan researchers could be the key to a targeted therapy for cardiac arrhythmia, a condition that causes the heart to beat erratically and can lead to heart attack and stroke.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.