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  • Author: M Petretta x
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M Petretta, D Bonaduce, L Spinelli, ML Vicario, V Nuzzo, F Marciano, P Camuso, V De Sanctis and G Lupoli

OBJECTIVE: To characterize cardiac structure and function and cardiac autonomic control in patients with subclinical and overt hyperthyroidism. DESIGN: Thirty patients with subclinical hyperthyroidism and 30 with overt disease were selected from patients never previously treated for endocrinological disease in the outpatient clinic of our institution. Twenty normal individuals were studied as control group. METHODS: Left ventricular structure and function and cardiac autonomic control were evaluated, respectively, by two-dimensional Doppler echocardiography and by 24-h Holter recording with heart rate variability analysis. RESULTS: Patients with overt hyperthyroidism showed greater values of left ventricular end-diastolic volume (P<0.05) and left ventricular mass (P<0.05) than patients with subclinical disease. In addition, the mean velocity of left ventricular fibre shortening (P<0.05) and left ventricular ejection fraction (P<0.05) were greater in patients with overt hyperthyroidism than in patients with subclinical disease. No difference in any of these parameters was detectable between normal subjects and patients with subclinical disease. The isovolumic relaxation period was shorter in patients with subclinical hyperthyroidism than in control individuals (P<0.05) and in patients with overt hyperthyroidism (P<0.05). As regards cardiac autonomic control, all time and frequency domain measures decreased progressively from control individuals to patients with subclinical hyperthyroidism and those with overt disease (P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Thyrotoxic patients show changes in left ventricular structure and increased echocardiographic indexes of myocardial contractility, whereas the only echocardiographic feature detectable in patients with subclinical hyperthyroidism is an increased velocity of left ventricular relaxation. Cardiac parasympathetic withdrawal is evident in patients with overt hyperthyroidism and in patients with subclinical disease.