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AIMS: To assess the heritability (i.e. relative contribution of genetic factors to the variability) of continuous measures of left ventricular hypertrophy determined by electrocardiography and echocardiography. METHODS AND RESULTS: We studied 955 members of 229 Caucasian families, ascertained through a hypertensive proband. Electrocardiographic measurements were performed manually on resting 12-lead electrocardiograms, and echocardiographic measurements were made on M-mode images. Sex-specific residuals for the left ventricular phenotypes were calculated, adjusted for age, systolic blood pressure, weight, height, waist-hip ratio, and presence of diabetes. Heritability was estimated in two ways: firstly, from familial correlations with adjustment for spouse resemblance; and secondly by using variance components methods with ascertainment correction for proband status. The heritability estimates (given as a range derived from the two methods) were higher for Sokolow-Lyon voltage (39-41%) than for echocardiographic left ventricular mass (23-29%). Electrocardiographic left ventricular mass, Cornell voltage, and Cornell product had heritability estimates of 12-18%, 19-25%, and 28-32%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Genetic factors may explain a substantial proportion of variability in quantitative electrocardiographic and echocardiographic measures of left ventricular hypertrophy. The greater heritability of Sokolow-Lyon voltage suggests that electrocardiographic phenotypes may be particularly important for the molecular investigation of the genetic susceptibility to cardiac hypertrophy.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur Heart J

Publication Date





1963 - 1971


Echocardiography, Electrocardiography, Family Characteristics, Female, Humans, Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular, Male, Middle Aged, Pedigree, Phenotype