Aortic mechanical properties were assessed in a group of elderly subjects with untreated isolated systolic hypertension using two-dimensional echocardiography. Echocardiographic (two-dimensional and Doppler) assessment of left ventricular structure and function was also made. Ten subjects (mean age 71.7 ± 1.9 years, 20% male, mean clinic blood pressure 163.6/79.2 ± 1.2/2.0 mmHg) were compared with 16 normotensive subjects of similar age (69.4 ± 1.6 years, 38% male, mean clinic blood pressure 129.8/78.2 ± 3.2/2.9 mmHg). Aortic distensibility at the level of the transverse aortic arch was significantly reduced among subjects with isolated systolic hypertension. The thickness of the interventricular septum was approximately 20% greater in the hypertensive subjects (P<0.01) and the average wall thickness to radius ratio was increased by 30%. Patterns of transmitral diastolic flow were also different in subjects with isolated systolic hypertension. Deceleration time was significantly greater (P<0.01) and the ratio of early to late transmitral diastolic peak flow velocities was significantly less in the hypertensive (P<0.05) than in the normotensive group. Left ventricular systolic function was well preserved. These findings are consistent with the suggestion that isolated systolic hypertension represents a state of increased aortic stiffness which may contribute to the development of left ventricular hypertrophy. Whether this increase in aortic stiffness is the cause or effect of the elevated systolic blood pressure remains unresolved.
- Aortic compliance
- Doppler ultrasound
- Isolated systolic hypertension