In essential hypertension ventricular function is determined primarily by the degree of hypertrophy (myocardial factor) and by the organic complications in the coronary artery (coronary factor). Ventricular function is inversely correlated with ventricular size and systolic wall stress, inasmuch as ventricular function diminishes when these two variables increase. Even the young hypertensive heart of normal size with no angiographic abnormalities appears to be prone to ischemia, because the coronary reserve is seriously limited even in the absence of coronary stenosis. Unlike ventricular distensibility, myocardial compliance may be normal even in the presence of pronounced myocardial hypertrophy. As myocardial compliance decreases, systolic wall stress increases and ventricular function is reduced. The hypertensive heart, the most common form of an irregular hypertrophy of the ventricular wall, is found in 14% of such cases. Analysis of the degree of hypertrophy shows that the hypertrophy can be inappropriately high (high mass-to-volume ratio, reduced wall stress), appropriate, or inappropriately low (normal mass-to-volume ratio, increased wall stress). Digitalis glycosides, together with antihypertensive measures, are indicated for the dilated hypertensive heart; beta-receptor blockers are sound medication for the compensated hypertensive heart both with and without coronary stenoses. The following discussion includes classification of hypertensive heart disease based on the cardiac complications following hypertension.
- Copyright © 1984 by American Heart Association