The cardiovascular system in growth hormone excess and growth hormone deficiency

G. Lombardi, C. Di Somma, L. F S Grasso, M. C. Savanelli, A. Colao, R. Pivonello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The clinical conditions associated with GH excess and GH deficiency (GHD) are known to be associated with an increased risk for the cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, suggesting that either an excess or a deficiency in GH and/or IGF-I is deleterious for cardiovascular system. In patients with acromegaly, chronic GH and IGF-I excess commonly causes a specific cardiomyopathy characterized by a concentric cardiac hypertrophy associated with diastolic dysfunction and, in later stages, with systolic dysfunction ending in heart failure if GH/IGF-I excess is not controlled. Abnormalities of cardiac rhythm and anomalies of cardiac valves can also occur. Moreover, the increased prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and insulin resistance, as well as dyslipidemia, confer an increased risk for vascular atherosclerosis. Successful control of the disease is accompanied by a decrease of the cardiac mass and improvement of cardiac function and an improvement in cardiovascular risk factors. In patients with hypopituitarism, GHD has been considered the underlying factor of the increased mortality when appropriate standard replacement of the pituitary hormones deficiencies is given. Either childhood-onset or adulthood-onset GHD are characterized by a cluster of abnormalities associated with an increased cardiovascular risk, including altered body composition, unfavorable lipid profile, insulin resistance, endothelial dysfunction and vascular atherosclerosis, a decrease in cardiac mass together with an impairment of systolic function mainly after exercise. Treatment with recombinant GH in patients with GHD is followed by an improvement of the cardiovascular risk factors and an increase in cardiac mass together with an improvement in cardiac performance. In conclusion, acromegaly and GHD are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, but the control of GH/IGF-I secretion reverses cardiovascular abnormalities and restores the normal life expectancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1021-1029
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Acromegaly
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • GH deficiency
  • GH excess
  • Heart
  • Vascular system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology

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