Since the advent of the Doppler color flow echocardiography, the presence of a small degree of insufficiency of the cardiac valves has been detected with relative frequency in structurally and functionally normal hearts. Data about this so-called 'physiological' regurgitation are presently available only in normotensive subjects and athletes. We therefore studied the prevalence of this phenomenon in a group of patients with essential hypertension compared to a population of normotensive subjects. To this purpose, a Doppler color flow echocardiography study was performed in 130 essential hypertensive patients (72M/58F: age 44.2 ± 13.5 years; BP 154.3 ± 12.8/98.3 ± 7.1 mm Hg) without any evidence of left ventricular hypertrophy or cardiopathy and in 100 normal subjects (59M/41F; age 41.2 ± 14.8 years; BP 119.1 ± 8.1/79.2 ± 8.1 mm Hg). We conclude that in patients with essential hypertension the physiological regurgitant jets are present in one or more cardiac valves; moreover, the regurgitation of the mitral and aortic valve is found with more frequency than in the normotensive control group (36.1 vs. 27.0% and 17.7 vs. 11.0%, respectively). These data suggest that the increased afterload of the left ventricle may play an important role in the pathogenesis of even minor degree of insufficiency of the cardiac valves. As this finding does not appear to have a pathological relevance, the main clinical implication of this study is that it is not advisable to create a jatrogenic heart disease in the hypertensive patients routinely screened by the echo-Doppler technique.
- Color doppler
- Physiological valvular regurgitation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Pharmacology (medical)