OBJECTIVE--To see whether cardiac morphological and functional abnormalities in uraemic patients are determined by high blood pressure or if they are an expression of a specific cardiomyopathy. DESIGN--Cross sectional study. SETTING--City general hospital in Italy. SUBJECTS--35 uraemic patients receiving haemodialysis (17 men, 18 women; mean age 60.3 (11.2); mean duration of dialysis 52 months) were selected from the 64 patients in Venice who were receiving dialysis; subjects with diabetes, haemochromatosis, valvar dysfunction, regional dyskinesias, and pericarditis were excluded. 19 control normotensive subjects (6 men and 13 women), matched for age. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Echocardiographic measurements of left atrium, left ventricular end diastolic and end systolic volume, aortic root diameter, posterior wall and interventricular septum thickness, left ventricle mass index, and ejection fraction in controls and in patients according to whether they were normotensive (five men, eight women) or hypertensive (12 men, 10 women) on 48 hour ambulatory monitoring; left ventricular diastolic function by Doppler ultrasonography. RESULTS--Mean systolic and diastolic pressures, daytime systolic and diastolic pressures, and night time systolic and diastolic pressures were significantly higher in the hypertensive patients than in the normotensive patients. The normotensive patients had similar blood pressures to the controls. Left ventricular mass correlated significantly with the mean diastolic pressure and mean night time systolic and diastolic pressures. Parathyroid hormone concentrations were similar in the two groups of patients. Diastolic relaxation was impaired to the same degree in the two groups of patients. Parameters of diastolic function showed no relation to left ventricular mass, which was significantly higher in the hypertensive than in the normotensive patients. CONCLUSIONS--Uraemia is likely to induce specific changes in the relaxation properties of the myocardium. These changes are responsible for the impaired diastolic function independently of blood pressure, degree of hypertrophy, and metabolic changes, which suggests the existence of a specific cardiomyopathy. Hypertension remains a determinant of left ventricular mass.
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