Heart Ability Varies By Demographic

Heart's right ventricle size and ability dependent on age, gender and race

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It would seem like all hearts are fairly similar, but new research suggests that the size and pumping ability of the right side of the heart varies based on age, gender, race and ethnicity.

The study, which was published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, marks the first large imaging study of the right ventricle of the heart. The new finding is expected to better aid physicians in determining when heart function is abnormal.

"Abnormalities on the right side of the heart could be an indicator of cardiopulmonary disease."

Researchers believe that changes in the size and function of the right ventricle could be an indicator of cardiopulmonary disease. This is because the right side of the heart pumps blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen so lung diseases can also affect the right side of the heart.

When the right ventricle loses pumping ability, blood can back up in other areas of the body producing right-sided heart failure. The research could help with testing the effectiveness of treatments that could be developed for right ventricle dysfunction.

Research showed that the right ventricle is larger in men than in women, is smaller but pumps harder in older adults and is smaller in blacks and Hispanics as compared to Caucasians.

The majority of heart studies focus on the left ventricle, which is more easily imaged and is affected by high blood pressure and a number of other common conditions.

For the study, researchers examined MRI images of the right ventricles of 4,204 men and woman with an average age of 62 years old. Research was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 9, 2011
Last Updated:
June 12, 2011