Mechanical atrial recovery after cardioversion in persistent atrial fibrillation evaluated by bidimensional speckle tracking echocardiography

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BackgroundAtrial fibrillation induces reversible electrical and mechanical modifications (atrial remodeling). Atrial stunning is a mechanical dysfunction with preserved bioelectrical function, occurring after successful atrial fibrillation electrical cardioversion (ECV). Two-dimensional speckle tracking echocardiography is a new technology for evaluating atrial mechanical function. We assessed atrial mechanical function after ECV with serial two-dimensional speckle tracking echocardiography evaluations. The investigated outcome was left atrium mechanical recovery within 3 months.MethodsA total of 36 patients [mean age 73 (7.9) years, 23 males] with persistent atrial fibrillation underwent conventional transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiography before ECV. Positive global atrial strain (GSA+) was assessed at 3 h, 1, 2, 3, 4 weeks and 3 months after ECV. Mechanical recovery was defined as the achievement of a GSA+ value of 21%.ResultsIndependent predictors of GSA+ immediately after ECV (basal GSA+) were E/e′ ratio and left atrial appendage anterograde flow velocity. During the follow-up, 25% of patients suffered atrial fibrillation recurrence. In 12/36 patients (33%) left atrium mechanical recovery was detected (mechanical recovery group), while in 15/36 (42%) recovery did not occur (no atrial mechanical recovery group). At univariate analysis, the variables associated with recovery, were basal GSA+ (P = 0.015) and maximal velocity left atrial appendage (P = 0.022). Female sex (P = 0.038), N-terminal pro-B type natriuretic peptide (P = 0.013), E/e′ (P = 0.042) and the indexed left atrium volume (P = 0.019) were associated with the lack of left atrium mechanical recovery.ConclusionIn almost half of the patients, the left atrium did not resume mechanical activity within the 3 months after ECV, despite sinus rhythm recovery. The left atrium of these patients was larger, stiffer and their E/E′ was higher, suggesting a higher endocavitary pressure compared with mechanical recovery patients. These findings might suggest an increased thromboembolic risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745-751
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Medicine
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2019


  • atrial cardiomyopathy
  • atrial fibrillation
  • atrial strain
  • atrial stunning
  • speckle tracking echocardiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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