Exploring the link between cardiovascular reactivity and end–organ damage in African and Caucasian men: the SABPA study

18 March 2015

BACKGROUND Heart failure in the African population is reaching alarming levels. Increased afterload as a result of increased vasoconstriction during stress may lead to impaired ventricular function and stroke volume (SV) as well as vascular hypertrophy. In this study, we challenged the cardiovascular system in order to evaluate the possible contribution of indicators of α-adrenergic vasoconstriction (i.e., vascular resistance and SV reactivity) on left ventricular mass and carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) in African and Caucasian men. METHODS We evaluated 101 African and 101 Caucasian male schoolteachers. Ambulatory blood pressure measurements were taken. Total peripheral resistance, Windkessel compliance and SV, and resting and reactivity values were obtained using a Finometer device while the Stroop color word conflict test was being applied. The electrocardiogram was recorded to obtain the Cornell product as indication of left ventricular mass. The CIMT was measured and the cross-sectional wall area (CSWA) calculated. RESULTS African men showed higher total vascular resistance resting values as well as higher positive reactivity values compared with Caucasian men. The SV decreased significantly during stress in African men while resting blood pressure and the Cornell product value increased. SV showed a consistent association with left ventricular mass (β = –0.21; P = 0.04) and CSWA (β = –0.24; P = 0.01) in single and multiple regression analyses. No such associations were evident in the Caucasian men. CONCLUSIONS African men showed a suppressed SV, possibly as a result of an increased ventricular afterload leading to end-organ damage.