Growth hormone excess is known to have adverse effects on the heart. The long term cardiac effects of growth hormone given to short normal children as part of a prospective randomised controlled trial of growth hormone treatment (Genotropin 30 IU/m2/week v no treatment) were therefore investigated. Echocardiographic findings are presented for 28 children who have been followed up for a minimum of four years. At the outset, the treated (n = 15) and untreated groups (n = 13) did not differ for any anthropometric or echocardiographic parameter. Their mean (SD) age at onset was 7.8 (0.5) years. After four years of treatment mean height SD score increased from -2.4 to -1.2 compared with no change (-2.5) in the untreated group. Left ventricular posterior wall and septal thickness and left ventricular shortening fraction did not differ between the groups, but a tendency towards increased left ventricular mass was seen in the treatment group (93 v 73 g). No such differential was observed after indexing left ventricular mass for body surface area (79 v 71 g/m2) or lean body mass (3.15 v 3.05 g/kg). It is concluded that prolonged growth hormone treatment does not cause important changes to the heart. A tendency towards increased left ventricular mass simply reflects the increase in lean body mass during treatment.
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