Growth hormone (GH) profoundly affects the developing and adult myocardium. Adult patients with GH deficiency (GHD) and GH excess (acromegaly) provide important models in which to understand the effects of GH in adult cardiac physiology. An increasing body of clinical and experimental evidence illustrates the specific physiological abnormalities that are likely associated with the excess cardiovascular mortality observed in both acromegaly and GHD. Because human GH replacement is now available to treat adults with GHD, new questions emerge about the long-term cardiovascular effects of replacement therapy. In multiple trials, GH therapy for congestive heart failure has been proved ineffective in the absence of preexisting GHD. Case reports suggest that, in the setting of GHD, GH therapy can exert a potent beneficial effect on congestive heart failure. Long-term studies addressing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality are needed to assess the role of GH therapy for GHD.
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