Imaging helps researchers ID a new predictor of heart attacks, heart failure

Left-ventricular (LV) hypertrophy, or an increase in the heart’s left ventricular mass, is an effective predictor of cardiovascular-related death, according to new findings published in Radiology.

Researchers explored data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Athersclerosis (MESA), a multi-center study of more than 6,800 men and women with no known cardiovascular disease. The goal was to learn more about LV hypertrophy and what it means for a patient’s long-term health.

“Previous studies have used ECG or echocardiography, which have lower sensitivity in the diagnosis of LV hypertrophy, and typically follow patients for only several years,” lead author Nadine Kawel-Boehm, MD, a radiologist at Hospital Graubünden in Chur, Switzerland, said in a prepared statement. “The MESA study used MRI, which is the gold standard for quantifying LV mass, and had a long follow-up of 15 years.”

Studying nearly 5,000 MESA participants who had undergone MRI scans between 2000 and 2002, Kawel-Boehm and colleagues found that 247 patients had LV hypertrophy. The team then concluded that LV hypertrophy was an independent predictor of “significant coronary heart disease (CHD) events, including myocardial infarction, coronary artery disease-related death and heart failure.”

While 22% of the study participants with LV hypertrophy had a significant CHD event, for example, just 6% of participants without LV hypertrophy experienced such an event. And patients with LV hypertrophy had a much higher (4.3-times) risk of coronary artery disease-related death than those without LV hypertrophy.

“Our results provide further evidence and motivation for regular follow up and management of individuals with LV hypertrophy,” Kawel-Boehm said in the same statement. “A higher LV mass quantified by imaging may matter more in some instances than a high calcium score.”