Left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy (LVH) is a frequent imaging finding in daily clinical practice, and its presence is associated with poor outcomes and ventricular arrhythmias. It is commonly detected in athletes, arterial hypertension, aortic stenosis, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, cardiac amyloidosis, Fabry disease, or Friedreich's ataxia. Echocardiography plays an important role in detecting LVH and underlying causes in current clinical practice. While echocardiography is essential for the quantification and early detection of LV structural findings for various cardiovascular diseases, it has been reported that speckle-tracking echocardiographic parameters are also useful for the detection of early LV structural abnormalities. In particular, global longitudinal strain (GLS) assessed by two-dimensional speckle-tracking echocardiography is reportedly a sensitive marker for early subtle abnormalities of LV myocardial performance, helpful for the prediction of outcomes for various cardiac diseases, and superior to conventional echocardiographic indices. GLS is determined as the averaged peak longitudinal strain of 18 LV segments from standard apical views and can be assessed as a polar plot. This polar plot longitudinal strain mapping offers an intuitive visual overview of the global and regional LV longitudinal myocardial function status of various cardiomyopathies with LVH. This mapping is clinically practicable and the plot patterns obtainable as the result of further development of this technique for clinical practice provide clues to the etiology of cardiomyopathies. This article reviews the efficacy of echocardiography for differential diagnosis of LVH, with a special focus on the utility of speckle-tracking longitudinal strain.
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