Background: Pediatric obesity is a growing public health problem, which is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. Left ventricular (LV) remodeling (increased myocardial mass and thickness) and contractile dysfunction (impaired longitudinal strain) have been documented in obese children, but little attention has been paid to the right ventricle (RV). We hypothesized that obese/overweight children would have evidence of RV remodeling and contractile dysfunction.

Methods: One hundred and three children, ages 8–18 years, were prospectively recruited and underwent cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR), including both standard cine imaging and displacement encoding with stimulated echoes (DENSE) imaging, which allowed for quantification of RV geometry and function/mechanics. RV free wall longitudinal strain was quantified from the end-systolic four-chamber DENSE image. Linear regression was used to quantify correlations of RV strain with LV strain and measurements of body composition (adjusted for sex and height). Analysis of variance was used to study the relationship between RV strain and LV remodeling types (concentric remodeling, eccentric/concentric hypertrophy).

Results: The RV was sufficiently visualized with DENSE in 70 (68%) subjects, comprising 36 healthy weight (13.6 ± 2.7 years) and 34 (12.1 ± 2.9 years) obese/overweight children. Obese/overweight children had a 22% larger RV mass index (8.2 ± 0.9 vs 6.7 ± 1.1 g/m2.7, p < 0.001) compared to healthy controls. RV free wall longitudinal strain was impaired in obese/overweight children (−16 ± 4% vs −19 ± 5%, p = 0.02). Ten (14%) out of 70 children had LV concentric hypertrophy, and these children had the most impaired RV longitudinal strain compared to those with normal LV geometry (−13 ± 4% vs −19 ± 5%, p = 0.002). RV longitudinal strain was correlated with LV longitudinal strain (r = 0.34, p = 0.004), systolic blood pressure (r = 0.33, p = 0.006), as well as BMI z-score (r = 0.28, p = 0.02), waist (r = 0.31, p = 0.01), hip (r = 0.40, p = 0.004) and abdominal (r = 0.38, p = 0.002) circumference, height and sex adjusted.

Conclusions: Obese/overweight children have evidence of RV remodeling (increased RV mass) and RV contractile dysfunction (impaired free wall longitudinal strain). Moreover, RV longitudinal strain correlates with LV longitudinal strain, and children with LV concentric hypertrophy show the most impaired RV function. These results suggest there may be a common mechanism underlying both remodeling and dysfunction of the left and right ventricles in obese/overweight children.

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Published in Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance, v. 19, 49, p. 1-11.

© The Author(s). 2017

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Funding Information

This project was supported by the NIH via grants P20 GM103527 and UL1 TR000117, and by the American Heart Association Great Rivers Affiliate via grant 14POST20310025.

Related Content

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are available on reasonable request with approval of the corresponding author.

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Additional file 1: Table S1.