OBJECTIVES: This study evaluated the role of various clinical and echocardiographic parameters, including the left atrial appendage (LAA) anterograde flow velocity, for prediction of the long-term preservation of sinus rhythm (SR) in patients with successful cardioversion (CV) of nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (AF). BACKGROUND: Echocardiographic parameters for assessing long-term SR maintenance after successful CV of nonvalvular AF are not accurately defined. METHODS: Clinical, transthoracic echocardiographic and transesophageal echocardiographic (TEE) data - measured in AF lasting >48 h - of 186 consecutive patients (116 men, mean age: 65 ± 9 years) with successful CV (electrical or pharmacologic) were analyzed for assessment of one-year maintenance of SR. RESULTS: At one-year follow-up, 91 of 186 (49%) patients who underwent successful CV continued to have SR. Mean LAA peak emptying flow velocity was higher in patients remaining in SR for one year than in those with AF relapse (41.7 ± 20.2 cm/s vs. 27.7 ± 17.0 cm/s; p <0.001). On multivariate logistic regression analysis, only the mean LAA peak emptying velocity >40 cm/s (p = 0.0001; X2: 23.9, odds ratio [OR] = 5.2, confidence interval [CI] 95% = 2.7 to 10.1) and the use of preventive antiarrhythmic drug treatment (p = 0.0398; X2: 4.2; OR = 2.0, CI 95% = 1.0 to 3.8) predicted the continuous preservation of SR during one year, outperforming other univariate predictors such as absence of left atrial spontaneous echocardiographic contrast during TEE, the left atrial parasternal diameter 46% and AF duration 40 cm/s for assessing preservation of SR were 66% (CI 95% = 56.9 to 74.2) and 73% (CI 95% = 62.4 to 83.3), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: In TEE-guided management of nonvalvular AF, high LAA flow velocity identifies patients with greater likelihood to remain in SR for one year after successful CV. Low LAA velocity is of limited value in identifying patients who will relapse into AF.
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