The major pumping chamber of the heart is the left
ventricle. This heart chamber pumps oxygenated blood into the aorta, the large blood vessel that delivers blood to the
body's tissues. If the left ventricle has to work too hard, its muscle hypertrophies (enlarges) and becomes thick. This is called left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH). Because of the increased
thickness, blood supply to the muscle itself may become inadequate. This can
lead to cardiac ischemia (not enough blood and oxygen
at the tissue level), myocardial infarction (heart
attack), or heart failure. The November 17, 2004, issue of JAMA includes several articles about reducing the risks of heart failure
and death from LVH by treating high blood pressure.