Chronic heart failure (CHF) is an established risk factor of atrial fibrillation (AF), but the prognostic value of cardiac and hemodynamic parameters in assessing the risk of developing AF among patients with CHF is less defined.Methods and results:
We followed an outpatients cohort of CHF patients secondary to left ventricular (LV) systolic dysfunction, who were free of AF at baseline. All patients underwent clinical evaluation, comprehensive echocardiography, and blood drawing in the same morning. Aortic pulse wave velocity (aPWV), a measure of aortic stiffness, was determined by Doppler echocardiography. A total of 77 patients (age 63 ± 9 years; 79% male) with mean LVEF (34 ± 8%) formed the study population. Fifteen patients developed incidental AF. At baseline, CHF patients who developed AF during follow-up had higher E-wave velocity (75 ± 2 cm/sec vs. 60 ± 2 cm/sec; P = 0.02), higher difference duration between mitral and pulmonary vein A velocity (A′–A), (10 ± 35 msec vs. 43 ± 44 msec P = 0.02), aPWV (7.1 ± 2.6 vs. 5.3 ± 1.9 m/sec P = 0.004), and furosemide dosage (110 ± 145 mg vs. 49 ± 48 mg P = 0.01) than those remaining free from AF. The two groups of patients did not significantly differ in terms of NYHA, LV volumes, ejection fraction, left atrial volume, creatinine, hemoglobin, renin, epinephrine, amino-terminal propeptide of type III and I procollagens, ACE inhibitor, and β-blocker dose (P > 0.1 for all). Notably, higher aPWV (P = 0.01) and longer A–A′ duration (P = 0.04) were associated with an increased incidence of AF, independently of potential confounders.Conclusions:
Increased aortic stiffness and LV diastolic dysfunction are strong predictors of new onset of AF among patients with systolic CHF.