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07-06-2011 | Cardiology | Article

Right ventricle size and function influenced by age, gender, race


Free abstract

MedWire News: A large imaging study of the right ventricle (RV) has shown that differences in its size and function are associated with age, gender, and race.

Previous studies have focused on the more easily imaged left ventricle of the heart, which is affected by systemic blood pressure, explain Steven Kawut (University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, USA) and colleagues.

The present research was a substudy of The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). It revealed that age, gender and race were associated with significant differences in RV mass, volumes, and ejection fraction.

Kawut and team included 4123 participants, with a median age of 61 years (47.5% male) who were free from cardiovascular disease (CVD) in their study sample. The researchers used cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine RV parameters.

Findings, published in the journal Circulation, showed that older age was associated with lower RV mass, with mass decreasing by approximately 5% each decade. These age-related decrements were larger in men than in women (p<0.05).

Higher RV ejection fraction (RVEF) was also associated with older age, but this association differed between races (p≤0.001). Black participants had lower RVEF than White, but had greater increases in RVEF with older age (p=0.01).

Men had a 8% greater RV mass and 10% larger RV volume than women, but 4% lower RV ejection fraction (p<0.001).

Black participants had lower RV mass than White (p≤0.002), whereas Hispanic participants had higher RV mass (p≤0.02).

Further calculations indicated that 7.3% of participants would be considered to have RV hypertrophy, and 5.9% to have RV dysfunction.

"The RV pumps blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen, so all types of lung diseases - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, and sleep apnea - can affect the right side of the heart," explained Kawut in a press statement.

"If RV abnormalities are found, it should heighten suspicion for underlying cardiopulmonary disease."

Kawut referred to his team's research as the "first step" towards studying the development of the RV over 5-10 years in healthy individuals.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Piriya Mahendra

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