The clinical and haemodynamic significance of the subaortic pressure gradient in patients with muscular (hypertrophic) subaortic stenosis (hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy) has long been debated. In this report we summarize the evidence which indicates that true obstruction to left ventricular outflow exists in these patients. Rapid left ventricular ejection, through an outflow tract narrowed by ventricular septal hypertrophy, results in Venturi forces causing systolic anterior motion of the anterior (or posterior) mitral leaflets. Mitral leaflet-septal contact results in obstruction to outflow and the accompanying mitral regurgitation. The time of onset of mitral leaflet-septal contact determines the magnitude of the pressure gradient and the severity of the mitral regurgitation, as well as the degree of prolongation of left ventricular ejection time and the percentage of left ventricular stroke volume that is ejected in the presence of an obstructive pressure gradient. Early and prolonged mitral leaflet-septal contact results in a large pressure gradient, significant mitral regurgitation, as well as dramatic prolongation of the ejection time and a large percentage of left ventricular stroke volume being obstructed. Late and short mitral leaflet-septal contact results in little haemodynamic perturbation. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy patients with obstructive pressure gradients are significantly more symptomatic than those without. Thus the obstructive pressure gradients in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are of clinical as well as haemodynamic significance. To deny the existence of obstruction to outflow in patients with muscular subaortic stenosis is to deny these patients appropriate medical and surgical therapy.
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