Rationale and design of the SMART Heart study
Left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) is an independent risk factor for the development of heart failure, coronary heart disease and stroke. LVH develops in response to haemodynamic overload, e.g. hypertension. LVH was originally thought to start as an adaptive and beneficial response required to normalise wall stress. However, this concept has been challenged by recent animal experiments suggesting that any degree of LVH is detrimental for the preservation of cardiac function and survival. If confirmed in humans, these findings imply that an increase in LV mass should be prevented, e.g. by lifestyle or pharmacological interventions. To facilitate and optimise interventions, the SMART Heart study was recently set up to develop a prediction model, also involving single nucleotide polymorphism data, for the identification of subjects at high risk of developing LVH in hypertension. For this purpose 1000 subjects with chronic hypertension will undergo cardiac MR imaging. In addition, this study allows the extrapolation of animal experimental genetic research into the human situation. (Neth Heart J 2007;15:295-8).