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

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

June 6, 2011
The size and pumping ability of the right side of the heart differs by age, gender and race/ethnicity, according to the first large imaging study of the right ventricle.

Novel, noninvasive measurement a strong predictor for heart failure in general population

November 14, 2011
A new study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and collaborators at various institutions, presented at the 2011 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, shows that ...

Fat around heart may be early indicator of coronary disease

August 16, 2011
Researchers have found more evidence supporting the role of fat around the heart in promoting atherosclerosis, according to a study published online in the journal Radiology.

Recommended for you

Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?

November 17, 2017
The buildup of plaque in the heart's arteries is an unfortunate part of aging. But by studying the genetic makeup of people who maintain clear arteries into old age, researchers led by UNC's Jonathan Schisler, PhD, have identified ...

Raising 'good' cholesterol fails to protect against heart disease

November 16, 2017
Raising so-called 'good' cholesterol by blocking a key protein involved in its metabolism does not protect against heart disease or stroke, according to a large genetic study of 150,000 Chinese adults published in the journal ...

New model estimates odds of events that trigger sudden cardiac death

November 16, 2017
A new computational model of heart tissue allows researchers to estimate the probability of rare heartbeat irregularities that can cause sudden cardiac death. The model, developed by Mark Walker and colleagues from Johns ...

Popular e-cigarette liquid flavorings may change, damage heart muscle cells

November 16, 2017
Chemicals used to make some popular e-cigarette liquid flavorings—including cinnamon, clove, citrus and floral—may cause changes or damage to heart muscle cells, new research indicates.

Possible use for botulinum toxin to treat atrial fibrillation

November 16, 2017
From temporarily softening wrinkles to easing migraines, botulinum toxin has become a versatile medical remedy because of its ability to block nerve signals that can become bothersome or risky.

Proteome of the human heart mapped for the first time

November 15, 2017
A healthy heart beats about two billion times during a lifetime, thanks to the interplay of more than 10,000 proteins. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) and the German Heart Centre at the Technical ...

0 comments

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.