1.Coronary ischaemic disease and congestive heart failure are the principal causes of mortality in patients with peripheral vascular disease. Whether cardiac hypertrophy is present and even more pronounced in peripheral vascular disease than in other populations has never been explored.

2.Twenty-five hypertensive patients were investigated, 11 without and 14 with peripheral vascular disease, matched for age, sex, mean arterial pressure and antihypertensive drug treatment. Cardiac mass was determined using echocardiography together with measurement of systemic blood pressure, ratio between ankle systolic pressure (ASP) and brachial systolic pressure (BSP), and standard biochemical parameters including natriuresis per 24 ;h.

3.At the same mean arterial pressure, patients with peripheral vascular disease had a significantly higher cardiac mass (157±12 versus 116±6 ;g/m2; P< 0.01), pulse pressure (81±5 versus 55±4 ;mmHg; P< 0.01) and natriuresis (180±17 versus 144±6 ;mmol/24 h; P< 0.01) than controls. Using univariate correlations, cardiac mass was positively associated with pulse pressure, mean arterial pressure and natriuresis, and negatively with the ASP/BSP ratio. On the basis of multivariate regression analysis, only natriuresis was positively correlated to cardiac mass.

4.Patients with peripheral vascular disease develop a higher degree of cardiac hypertrophy in comparison with hypertensive subjects with the same level of mean arterial pressure. Sodium intake rather than mechanical factors seems to be the major modulating factor which influences the degree of cardiac hypertrophy.

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