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J Am Coll Cardiol. 1992 Apr;19(5):983-8.

New perspectives in the assessment of cardiac chamber dimensions during development and adulthood.

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Noninvasive Cardiac Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114.


The use of body surface area to assess the normalcy of cardiac dimensions has several limitations. To determine whether cardiac dimensions can be assessed by other indexes of body size and growth, this study evaluated the relations between cardiac dimensions assessed by two-dimensional echocardiography and age, height, weight and body surface area. The study group included 268 normal persons aged 6 days to 76 years of age. The dimensions examined included the aortic anulus, left atrium and left ventricular end-diastolic diameter, each measured in the parasternal long-axis plane, and left ventricular length measured from the apical two-chamber view. The analysis confirmed that the heart and great vessels grow in unison and at a predictable rate after birth, reaching 50% of their adult dimensions at birth, 75% by 5 years and 90% by 12 years. Although each cardiac dimension related linearly with height (aortic anulus, r = 0.96; left atrium, r = 0.91; left ventricular diameter, r = 0.94; left ventricular length, r = 0.93), the relations among age, weight and body surface area were best expressed by quadratic equations. Multiple regression confirmed that after adjustment for height, other indexes including age, gender, weight and body surface area had no independent effect on the prediction of each dimension. Therefore, because height is a nonderived variable that relates linearly with cardiac dimensions independent of age, it offers a simple yet accurate means of assessing the normalcy of cardiac dimensions in children and adults.

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