Objectives. We sought to assess whether in clinically stable patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) the prolongation (i.e., increase) of an initially short (≤125 ms) Doppler transmittal deceleration time (DT) of early filling obtained with long-term optimal oral therapy predicts a more favorable prognosis. Background. It has been recently demonstrated that transmitral early DT is a powerful independent predictor of poor prognosis in patients with left ventricular dysfunction. However, DT may change over time according to loading conditions and medical treatment. Method. One hundred forty-four patients with CHF and a short DT (≤125 ms) underwent repeat Doppler echocardiographic study 6 months after the initial examination, while clinically stable with optimal oral therapy, and were then followed up for a mean period of 26 ± 7 months. Results. After 6 months, DT had not changed in 80 patients (group 1), whereas it was significantly prolonged (> 125 ms) in the remaining 64 patients (group 2). Baseline Doppler echocardiographic features were similar in the two groups. No changes were found after 6 months in group 1, whereas group 2 showed a slight but significant (p <0.01) reduction in end-systolic volume, an improvement in left ventricular ejection fraction (p <0.01) and a decrease (p <0.01) in the degree of tricuspid regurgitation. During follow-up, 37% of patients in group I experienced cardiac death versus 11% in group 2 (p <0.0005). By Cox model analysis, prolongation of a short DT emerged as the single best predictor of survival (chi-square 15.70). Conclusions. The prolongation of an initially short DT obtained with long-term optimal oral therapy predicts a more favorable outcome in clinically stable patients with CHF.
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