The aim of this study was to evaluate cardiac performance, in particular diastolic function, in adult patients with adulthood onset GH deficiency. The study group was composed of 19 GH deficient adult hypopituitary patients with at least 3 additional pituitary hormone deficits and 19 age, sex and BMI matched healthy controls. Mean duration of hypopituitarism was 108.6 +/- 77.0 months. None of the patients and controls presented with or had previous diagnosis of concomitant diseases that could affect cardiac function. All hormone deficiencies, except for GH, were appropriately replaced in the patients. Left ventricular function and geometry were evaluated by two-dimensional, M-mode and Doppler echocardiography. Body composition was evaluated by bioelectrical impedance analysis. Not significant differences were observed with respect to left heart dimensions and left ventricular systolic function between patients and controls. Nevertheless 2 of the left ventricular diastolic function parameters, deceleration time and isovolumetric relaxation time, were significantly prolonged in the patients compared with controls (247.88 +/- 70.65 vs 143.26 +/- 31.70 milliseconds (ms) and 122.31 +/- 18.24 vs; 89.47 +/- 12.12 ms respectively, p<0.001). Duration of hypopituitarism was significantly correlated with percent body fat mass (r=0.6119, p<0.01) and percent lean body mass (r=-0.5949, p<0.01). It is concluded that in adults affected by hypopituitarism, GH deficiency predominantly impairs diastolic function while systolic function at rest is spared. This observation might indicate a preclinical stage of a cardiornyopathy. (C) 2002, Editrice Kurtis.