Left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) has been associated with insulin resistance, a condition with an impaired insulin-mediated vasodilation in skeletal muscle. ACE-inhibitors have been reported to be superior to most other antihypertensive drugs in inducing a regression of LVH. In a double-blind study with parallel groups, 50 patients with essential hypertension were randomized to treatment with either fosinopril (20 mg o.d.) or atenolol (50 mg o.d.) for 12-16 weeks. Left ventricle wall thickness (LVWT, defined as the sum of interventricular septum and posterior wall), diastolic function (represented by the ratio between the E-wave and the A-wave of mitral blood flow) and femoral artery blood flow (FBF) were evaluated using ultrasonic measurements. FBF was measured at normoinsulinemia and after 2 h of euglycemic hyperinsulinemia. Before treatment, the insulin-induced increase in FBF was inversely related to the LVWT (r = -0.52, p < 0.02). The reduction in ambulatory 24-h SBP/DBP was 13/9 mmHg for fosinopril and 15/14 for atenolol, ambulatory DBP being significantly more reduced by atenolol (p = 0.03 for difference in treatment effect). However, only fosinopril treatment resulted in a significant reduction in LVWT (from 20.5 mm to 19.4 mm, p < 0.05). The degree of reduction in LVWT was related to the increase in FBF in the fosinopril group (r = -0.45, p < 0.05). For fosinopril (but not for atenolol), there was a positive relationship between the change in E/A ratio and the change in femoral artery stroke volume (r = 0.80, p < 0.01).
Impaired insulin-induced stimulation of leg blood flow was related to an increased LVWT. Furthermore, during fosinopril treatment, regression of LVWT was associated with enhanced skeletal muscle blood flow during hyperinsulinemia. This indicates that impaired peripheral blood flow (and thereby increased afterload) may be a possible mechanism explaining the previously found association between insulin resistance and cardiovascular hypertrophy.
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