Echocardiographically determined left ventricular mass (LVM) is currently considered to be the most powerful risk indicator for cardiovascular disease, yielding prognostic information beyond that provided by the evaluation of traditional cardiovascular risk factors, high blood pressure included. It has been considered logical to try to obtain regression of cardiac hypertrophy, even though the risk-reducing implications of such a measure remain to be fully established. Experimental and clinical studies have shown that some classes of antihypertensive compounds are less effective than others in causing reversal of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) in spite of being similarly efficacious in lowering blood pressure. In order to extract the maximum amount of information from clinical studies, a meta-analysis was performed. This analysis included 109 treatment studies, each conformed to strict preset rules. Only studies with pharmacological antihypertensive therapy and echocardiographically determined LVM were included. An analysis of the effect of the four first-hand antihypertensive treatment principles, adjusted for differences between studies with ANCOVA, showed that the ACE inhibitors, β-blockers and calcium antagonists all reduce LVM by reversing wall hypertrophy and that the effect is most pronounced with ACE inhibitors. Diuretics reduce LVM mainly by a reduction in left ventricular diameter. If the difference in ability to reverse LVH, between ACE inhibitors and β-blockers/diuretics would correspond to a difference in prognosis, then the outcome of antihypertensive therapy might be expected to improve. This hypothesis is currently under investigation.

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