We evaluated the interplay between left ventricular diastolic function and large-artery stiffness in asymptomatic patients at increased risk of heart failure and no structural heart disease (Stage A).
We divided 127 consecutive patients (mean age 49 ± 17 years) with risk factors for heart failure who were referred to our laboratory to rule out structural heart disease into two groups according to presence (Group 1, n = 35) or absence (Group 2, n = 92) of grade I left ventricular diastolic dysfunction. Doppler imaging with high-resolution echo-tracking software was used to measure intima-media thickness (IMT) and stiffness of carotid arteries.
Group 1 had significantly higher mean age, blood pressure, left ventricular mass index, carotid IMT and arterial stiffness than Group 2 (P < 0.05). Overall, carotid stiffness indices (β-stiffness index, augmentation index and elastic modulus) and ‘one-point’ pulse wave velocity each showed inverse correlation with E-wave velocity, E′ velocity and E/A ratio, and direct correlation with A-wave velocity, E-wave deceleration time and E/E′ ratio (P < 0.05). Arterial compliance showed negative correlations with the echocardiographic indices of left ventricular diastolic function (P < 0.05). On logistic regression analysis, age, hypertension, SBP, pulse pressure, left ventricular mass index, carotid IMT and stiffness parameters were associated with grade I left ventricular diastolic dysfunction (P < 0.05 for each). However, on multivariate logistic analysis, only ‘one-point’ pulse wave velocity and age were independent predictors (P = 0.038 and P = 0.016, respectively).
An independent association between grade I left ventricular diastolic dysfunction and increased arterial stiffness is demonstrated at the earliest stage of heart failure. Hence, assessment of vascular function, beyond cardiac function, should be included in a comprehensive clinical evaluation of these patients.