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Left Ventricular Function in Hypertension: New Insight by Speckle Tracking Echocardiography


  • Egidio Imbalzano and Concetta Zito contributed equally to this work.

Concetta Zito, M.D., Dipartimento di Medicina e Farmacologia, A.O.U. Policlinico G Martino, University of Messina, Italy. Fax: +390965302875; E-mail:


Background: Conventional transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) and tissue Doppler imaging (TDI) are usually unable to reveal very early subtle abnormalities in left ventricular (LV) systolic function caused by hypertension, prior to manifestation of hypertrophy (LVH). This study was undertaken to assess whether speckle tracking echocardiography (STE) provides more insight into early hypertension-induced LV systolic dysfunction, with the purpose of identifying patients at higher risk for heart failure (HF). Methods: Fifty-one patients (56.5 ± 14 years) and 51 controls (52 ± 12.6 years) were enrolled. According to the presence or absence of LVH, patients were classified as LVH(+) and LVH(–), respectively. Global longitudinal function was calculated by TDI, global strains [longitudinal (LS), radial (RS), and circumferential (CS)] and twist were assessed by STE. Results: Conventional TTE showed a LV diastolic dysfunction with normal systolic function in all patients. TDI was able to detect a systolic dysfunction only in the LVH(+) group (P < 0.001) whereas STE revealed an impairment of systolic LS in all patients, including those without hypertrophy (P = 0.02). Furthermore, in the LVH(+) group, STE showed reduced RS and increased CS and twist. These last alterations were observed with respect to both controls (RS: P = 0.02; CS: P = 0.05; twist: P < 0.001) and LVH(–) patients (RS: P = 0.01; CS: P = 0.003; twist: P = 0.001). Conclusion: In hypertensive patients, STE provides more detailed information than conventional echocardiography and TDI, since it reveals a systolic dysfunction before hypertrophy occurs (Stage A of ACC/AHA classification of HF) and identifies some early LV mechanic changes that might improve the clinical management of these patients. (Echocardiography 2011;28:649-657)