Peak atrio-ventricular mechanics predicts exercise tolerance in heart failure patients

Shantanu P Sengupta, Nduka C Okwose, Guy A MacGowan, Djordje G Jakovljevic

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    PURPOSE: Exercise intolerance is a cardinal symptom of patients with heart failure (HF). We hypothesized that patients with HF with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) in comparison with those with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) have disproportionate exercise-induced impairment of left atrial (LA) function that may explain the effort intolerance..

    METHODS: Total 40 HFpEF patients, 40 HFrEF patients, and 20 matched healthy controls underwent resting and exercise stress transthoracic echocardiography using modified Bruce protocol with speckle-tracking derived assessments of peak atrial longitudinal strain (PALS) and left ventricular global longitudinal strain (LVGLS).

    RESULTS: In comparison to controls, PALS and LVGLS were reduced in HFpEF and HFrEF patients (P < 0.01); however, the strain magnitudes were significantly lower in HFrEF than in HFpEF (P < 0.01). Both HFpEF and HFrEF showed a 28% and 30% reduction in exercise time in comparison with controls (HFpEF, 363 ± 152, HFrEF 352 ± 91, controls, 505 ± 42 s, P < 0.01) and exercise-related rise in E/E' in HFpEF patients. However, during exercise PALS reduced from resting values by 26% (resting 23.1 ± 4.7 and peak 18.5 ± 3.5, P < 0.01) in HFpEF but only 8% in HFrEF (resting 11.5 ± 1.4 and peak 10.5 ± 1.5, P < 0.01), and remained unchanged in controls (resting 34 ± 1.9 and peak 34.4 ± 1.2, P = 0.4). Regression analysis of the combined data from the HF patients and controls revealed that PALS was independently associated with exercise time such that a 1% reduction in PALS was associated with a 10 s reduction in exercise duration (p < 0.01). . PALS at baseline and peak exercise differentiated normal from HF patients. LVGLS at baseline and peak exercise differentiated HFpEF from HFrEF and patients of HFpEF showed abnormality of both PALS and LVGLS.

    CONCLUSION: Although left ventricle and LA strain are lower in HFrEF than HFpEF at rest and exercise compared to healthy controls, patients with HFpEF show more profound deterioration of LA reservoir function with exercise which appears to contribute to exercise intolerance.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)84-90
    Number of pages7
    JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
    Early online date1 Apr 2022
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2022

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    This document is the author’s post-print version, incorporating any revisions agreed during the peer-review process. Some differences between the published version and this version may remain and you are advised to consult the published version if you wish to cite from it.


    • Heart failure
    • Left atrium
    • Exercise intolerance


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