Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (LVH)
Except for blood to the lungs (from the right ventricle), the left ventricle is the rest of the body’s major pump. Over time, long-term pressure, such as from hypertension, or volume overloading, such as happens with valve disease, can cause its muscle fibers to enlarge, which increases the mass of the entire ventricle. Typically, its walls become thickened, its cavity size increases, or both.
Hypertension (longterm pressure) and volume overloading (e.g., from valve disease such as aortic stenosis or regurgitation) are the two most common causes.
Causes of LVH
Besides chronic hypertension, even the temporary blood pressure spikes that occur in exercise or with stress, if frequent enough in high percentages of pressures >135/85, can predispose an individual to LVH; at night, when blood pressure should fall–the 10% “dip,” sustained pressures increase the risk of LVH; this probably explains the increased risk of LVH with obstructive sleep apnea.
The valvular diseases either obstruct flow out or allow blood already pumped out to flow back in.
LVH can cause congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias as life-threatening cardiovascular complications.