Impaired diastolic function and left ventricular hypertrophy can occur early in the natural history of essential hypertension. High circulating levels of endogenous ouabain (EO) have been described in essential hypertension and have also been associated with left ventricular hypertrophy. The aim of this study was to investigate whether these cardiac modifications are related to plasma EO levels in the offspring of hypertensive families.
The study involved 41 subjects with (FAM+) and 45 subjects without (FAM−) a family history of hypertension. Arterial blood pressure, left ventricular geometry and function, and plasma EO levels were measured in each subject.
Plasma EO levels were higher in the FAM+ subjects (221.5 ± 10.95 versus 179.6 ± 9.58 pmol/l, P = 0.004), and directly correlated with both systolic (r = 0.417, P < 0.0001) and diastolic blood pressure (r = 0.333, P = 0.002). Plasma EO was inversely related to an index of cardiac diastolic function determined as the ratio between the early and late peak flow velocity (r = −0.286, P = 0.012) and isovolumetric relaxation time (IVRT) (r = 0.32, P = 0.003). The IVRT was also significantly higher in FAM+, correlated with the IVRT (r = 0.32, P = 0.003). The IVRT was also significantly higher in FAM+, whereas the other echocardiographic parameters were similar to FAM−.
Among the offspring of families with a positive history of hypertension, circulating EO levels and blood pressure are increased. Plasma EO levels are related to alterations of some indexes of diastolic heart function in these individuals.