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 left ventricle, 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 right ventricle (RV) is critical in our understanding of many conditions of the heart and lungs. This research revealed that approximately one in 10 heart failure events and cardiovascular deaths may be attributed to thickening of the RV in adults without clinical cardiovascular disease at baseline."
The researchers examined cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) images of the right ventricles of 4,144 men and women, average age 61, participating in the Multi-Ethnic Study 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.