Early evaluation of cardiovascular (CV) risk in hypertensive patients is of primary importance and studies of retinal vessels can be helpful. The aim of this study is to assess the correlation between retinal vessel changes and target organ damage (TOD), expressed as left ventricular remodelling (LVR) or hypertrophy (LVH). We evaluated 60 treated hypertensive individuals (mean age 60.9 +/- 13.3 years). On the basis of echocardiographic results, we divided the subjects showing the presence of TOD and subjects without TOD into Groups A and B, respectively. Both groups underwent a non-mydriatic digital retinography. The obtained vessel images were analysed using dedicated software in order to calculate AVR (arteriovenular ratio), index of the retinal arteriolar narrowing. The data analyses confirmed a mean AVR value of 0.86 in Group B and a mean value of 0.77 in Group A. AVR index was also analysed in a subgroup of A with evidence of LVR, and mean value was 0.76. The same procedure was carried out with subgroup of A with LVH and AVR index resulted 0.77. In all comparisons, P-value was statistically significant (P<0.05). Our findings provide evidence that in hypertensive patients retinal AVR correlates with the presence of TOD, in this study in the context of LVR and LVH. In conclusion, AVR offers a direct vision retinal microcirculation and, also, indirectly, provides information of the left ventricular geometric pattern in hypertensive patients; thus, AVR may have an important role in global CV risk stratification and could possibly be used for optimising the hypertensive patient management.
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