Background: Neonatal asphyxia caused kidney injury and severe hypertension in a newborn. An unusually dilatated ascending aorta developed. Dialysis and pharmacological treatment led to partial recovery of the ascending aortic diameters. It was hypothesized that the aortic dilatation may be associated with aortic stiffening, peripheral resistance, and cardiovascular changes. Mathematical modeling was used to better understand the potential causes of the hypertension, and to confirm our clinical treatment within the confines of the model’s capabilities. Methods: The patient’s systolic arterial blood pressure showed hypertension. Echocardiographic exams showed ascending aorta dilatation during hypertension, which partially normalized upon antihypertensive treatment. To explore the underlying mechanisms of the aortic dilatation and hypertension, an existing lumped parameter hemodynamics model was deployed. Hypertension was simulated using realistic literature informed parameter values. It was also simulated using large parameter perturbations to demonstrate effects. Simulations were designed to permit examination of causal mechanisms. The hypertension inducing effects of aortic stiffnesses, vascular resistances, and cardiac hypertrophy on blood flow and pressure were simulated. Sensitivity analysis was used to stratify causes. Results: In agreement with our clinical diagnosis, the model showed that an increase of aortic stiffness followed by augmentation of peripheral resistance are the prime causes of realistic hypertension. Increased left ventricular elastance may also cause hypertension. Ascending aortic pressure and flow increased in the simultaneous presence of left ventricle hypertrophy and augmented small vessel resistance, which indicate a plausible condition for ascending aorta dilatation. In case of realistic hypertension, sensitivity analysis showed that the treatment of both the large vessel stiffness and small vessel resistance are more important in comparison to cardiac hypertrophy. Conclusion and Discussion: Large vessel stiffness was found to be the prime factor in arterial hypertension, which confirmed the clinical treatment. Treatment of cardiac hypertrophy appears to provide significant benefit but may be secondary to treatment of large vessel stiffness. The quantitative grading of pathophysiological mechanisms provided by the modeling may contribute to treatment recommendations. The model was limited due to a lack of data suitable to permit model identification.
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