Left-sided congestive heart failure may be secondary to decreased left ventricular myocardial compliance in some patients. To investigate the anatomic basis for altered wall stiffness, morphometric determinations of muscle cell nuclear density and percent of myocardium consisting of muscle cells were made for right and left ventricular free wall and septum in 127 hearts with normal coronary arteries. The hearts were normal (33 patients), had left ventricular hypertrophy (28 patients), right ventricular hypertrophy (25 patients), or chronic dilatation (41 patients). With cardiac enlargement, the average percent of myocardium consisting of muscle did not change from the approximately 75% value characteristic of normal hearts. In contrast, muscle cell nuclear density decreased proportionate to cardiac enlargement, demonstrating that muscle cell hypertrophy, not hyperplasia, is the basis for weight increase. Some hearts with marked long-standing dilatation also had perivascular and interstitital 'striae' of connective tissue differing from replacement fibrosis. An increase in epicardial coronary artery caliber commensurate with increased heart weight suggests that ischemia is not the basis of connective tissue increase. The results show that cardiac muscle cell hypertrophy is accompanied by commensurate increase in interstitial connective tissues. This pattern of myocardial growth with cardiac enlargement may produce increased myocardial stiffness simply as a result of increased wall thickness, and may lead to left-sided congestive heart failure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine