Left atrial global and regional function in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation has already been impaired before enlargement of left atrium: velocity vector imaging echocardiography study

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Left atrial volume (LAV) has been proposed as a predictor of atrial fibrillation (AF) and LA function has been investigated by velocity vector imaging (VVI) echocardiography. The aim of this study was to determine whether LA function was associated with the existence of AF.

Methods and results

We examined emptying function (EF) as a global function and strain rate (SR) as a regional function of LA function during three phases of the cardiac cycle (reservoir, conduit, and booster pump phase). The parameters were measured (apical four-chamber view) by VVI in 302 subjects [126 sinus rhythm, 91 paroxysmal AF (PAF), and 85 chronic AF]. Global and regional LA function were significantly lower in PAF patients during sinus rhythm (LA total EF: 35 ± 8%; SR at atrial contraction: −0.8 ± 0.3s−1) and much lower in chronic AF patients (LA total EF 22 ± 8%) than in subjects with sinus rhythm (LA total EF: 47 ± 7%; SR at atrial contraction: −1.4 ± 0.4s−1). In multivariate logistic regression analysis, LA active EF and SR at atrial contraction were independent features of PAF.


LA function, particularly LA active relaxation and contraction, was lower in PAF patients than in subjects with sinus rhythm, regardless of LA size and age. LA functional impairment was observed regardless of hypertension before LA enlargement in patients with PAF. Reduced LA function, as assessed by VVI, is an important feature of AF as well as LA structure.

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