1. To assess the clinical significance of supernormal left ventricular systolic function in the initial phase of hypertension, 635 never-treated 18–45-year-old borderline to mild hypertensive subjects (477 males, 158 females) were studied. All subjects underwent echocardiography, 24 h ambulatory blood pressure monitoring and 24 h urine collection for catecholamine dosage.
2. Subjects whose left ventricular shortening-stress relationship was above the 95% confidence intervals of 50 normotensive subjects of similar age and sex distribution were defined as having supernormal function.
3. Age, duration of hypertension and left ventricular mass were similar in the hypertensive subjects with normal (85%) and supernormal (15%) ejective performance. Subjects with supernormal function showed higher office systolic blood pressure (P < 0001), office heart rate (P = 0.03) and cardiac index (P < 0001). Conversely, 24 h systolic blood pressure, 24 h heart rate and 24 h catecholamine output did not differ according to left ventricular function.
4. In conclusion, the greater white-coat effect and the normal baseline sympathetic tone exhibited by the patients with increased performance suggest that supernormal left ventricular pump function is only a marker of the alerting reaction elicited by the echocardiographic examination.