Abstract

In aortic valve stenosis, concentric hypertrophy develops which is characterized by a reduced end-diastolic radius-to-wall thickness ratio (r/h) with an essentially normal cavity shape. As long as the product of (r/h) and LV systolic pressure remains constant, hypertrophy is appropriate. An increase in the product, which represents an increase in wall stress signals inadequate LV hypertrophy. Although at first glance, massive LV hypertrophy appears favourable for the maintenance of a normal LV ejection fraction in aortic stenosis, data from 23 studies of the literature have shown an inverse relationship between ejection fraction and LV angiographic mass m−2 (r=−0·59). Both a degree of hypertrophy inadequate to keep systolic wall stress within normal limits and a reduction of LV contractility may explain the depression of ejection fraction when LV angiographic mass is sizeably increased. Conversely, a normal ejection fraction in aortic stenosis may not be indicative of normal systolic myocardial function under all circumstances. In the presence of mildly reduced contractility, a normal ejection fraction may be maintained by the use of preload reserve. Assessment of myocardial structure from LV endomyocardial biopsies revealed no differences in muscle fibre diameter, interstitial fibrosis and volume fraction of myofibrils between patients with aortic stenosis having a normal and those with a depressed ejection fraction. Preoperative ejection fraction is a poor predictor of postoperative survival, whereas markedly increased preoperative angiographic mass and end-systolic volume have been reported to predict an unsatisfactory postoperative outcome characterized by either death or poor LV function.

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