Experimental and clinical studies indicate that growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) are involved in heart development. Impaired cardiovascular function, as recently demonstrated, could potentially reduce life expectancy both in GH deficiency (GHD) and excess. Patients with childhood- or adult-onset GHD may have both cardiac structural and functional abnormalities, i.e. reduced cardiac mass, reduced diastolic filling, and impaired left ventricular response to peak exercise. In addition, GHD patients may present with an increase in vascular intima-media thickness and a higher occurrence of atheromatous plaques that can further aggravate the hemodynamic conditions and contribute to the increased cardiovascular and cerebrovascular risk. However, some evidence has been provided to show that cardiovascular abnormalities can be partially reversed after somatropin (recombinant GH) therapy in patients with GHD. Recently, somatropin administration was shown to induce improvement in hemodynamics and clinical status in some patients with heart failure. Although these data need to be confirmed in more extensive studies, such promising results open new perspectives for somatropin therapy. The role of GH secretagogues in heart failure is still unknown.
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