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Fractal analysis provides a global assessment of vascular networks (e.g., geometric complexity). We examined the association of diastolic left ventricular (LV) function with the retinal microvascular fractal dimension. A lower fractal dimension signifies a sparser retinal microvascular network. In 628 randomly recruited Flemish individuals (51.3% women; mean age, 50.8 years), we measured diastolic LV function by echocardiography and the retinal microvascular fractal dimension by the box-counting method (Singapore I Vessel Assessment software, version 3.6). The left atrial volume index (LAVI), e′, E/e′ and retinal microvascular fractal dimension averaged (±SD) 24.3 ± 6.2 mL/m2, 10.9 ± 3.6 cm/s, 6.96 ± 2.2, and 1.39 ± 0.05, respectively. The LAVI, E, e′ and E/e′ were associated (P < 0.001) with the retinal microvascular fractal dimension with association sizes (per 1 SD), amounting to −1.49 mL/m2 (95% confidence interval, −1.98 to −1.01), 2.57 cm/s (1.31–3.84), 1.34 cm/s (1.07–1.60), and −0.74 (−0.91 to −0.57), respectively. With adjustments applied for potential covariables, the associations of E peak and E/e′ with the retinal microvascular fractal dimension remained significant (P ≤ 0.020). Over a median follow-up of 5.3 years, 18 deaths occurred. The crude and adjusted hazard ratios expressing the risk of all-cause mortality associated with a 1-SD increment in the retinal microvascular fractal dimension were 0.36 (0.23–0.57; P < 0.001) and 0.57 (0.34–0.96; P = 0.035), respectively. In the general population, a lower retinal microvascular fractal dimension was associated with greater E/e′, a measure of LV filling pressure. These observations can potentially be translated into new strategies for the prevention of diastolic LV dysfunction.


Copyright © 2021, The Author(s)

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Publication Title

Hypertension Research



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Mentor/PI Department




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