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High Alt Med Biol. 2009 Fall;10(3):247-52. doi: 10.1089/ham.2009.0001.

Changes of cardiac structure and function in pediatric patients with high altitude pulmonary hypertension in Tibet.

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Research Center for High Altitude Medicine, Qinghai University, Xining, Qinghai, P.R. China.


This study was performed to evaluate the structural and functional cardiac changes in pediatric high altitude pulmonary hypertension (HAPH) using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and Doppler echocardiography (Echo). Ten patients with infantile HAPH (aged 12 to 24 months) and eight healthy age-matched children (control group) underwent MRI and Echo studies. All participants were born and living in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (3600 to 4600 m). The studies were performed at the Children's Hospital located in Xining, Qinghai (2260 m). The right and left ventricular end-systolic (RVEST and LVEST, respectively) and end-diastolic (RVEDT and LVEDT, respectively) wall thicknesses were calculated directly from the MRI scans. The mean pulmonary arterial pressure (mPAP) was measured using Echo. RVEST was significantly higher in the HAPH group than in the control group (6.8 +/- 0.6 and 3.7 +/- 0.5 mm, respectively; p < 0.001). RVEDT was significantly higher in the HAPH patients when compared with the control group (4.9 +/- 1.1 and 2.1 +/- 0.3 mm, respectively; p < 0.05). Mean PAP in the HAPH group was significantly higher than in the control group (66.8 +/- 6.7 and 33.8 +/- 3.6 mmHg, respectively; p < 0.001) and was positively correlated with RVEDT (r(2) = 0.562, p < 0.001). Right ventricular ejection fraction was significantly lower in the HAPH group when compared with the control group (29.8 +/- 11.8 and 55.5 +/- 9.9%, respectively; p < 0.001); however, left ventricular ejection fraction was similar in both groups. These results indicate that hypoxia-induced infantile HAPH leads to right ventricular hypertrophy in these patients. These structural cardiac changes may lead to right ventricular dysfunction and right heart failure; however, left ventricular function is preserved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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