Left atrial volume: important risk marker of incident atrial fibrillation in 1655 older men and women

Mayo Clin Proc. 2001 May;76(5):467-75. doi: 10.4065/76.5.467.


Objective: To evaluate the contribution of left atrial (LA) volume in predicting atrial fibrillation (AF).

Patients and methods: In this retrospective cohort study, a random sample of 2200 adults was identified from all Olmsted County, Minnesota, residents who had undergone transthoracic echocardiographic assessment between 1990 and 1998 and were 65 years of age or older at the time of examination, were in sinus rhythm, and had no history of AF or other atrial arrhythmias, stroke, pacemaker, congenital heart disease, or valve surgery. The LA volume was measured off-line by using a biplane area-length method. Clinical characteristics and the outcome event of incident AF were determined by retrospective review of medical records. Echocardiographic data were retrieved from the laboratory database. From this cohort, 1655 patients in whom LA size data were available were followed from baseline echocardiogram until development of AF or death. The clinical and echocardiographic associations of AF, especially with respect to the role of LA volume in predicting AF, were determined.

Results: A total of 666 men and 989 women, mean +/- SD age of 75.2 +/- 7.3 years (range, 65-105 years), were followed for a mean +/- SD of 3.97 +/- 2.75 years (range, < 1.00-10.78 years); 189 (11.4%) developed AF. Cox model 5-year cumulative risks of AF by quartiles of LA volume were 3%, 12%, 15%, and 26%, respectively. With Cox proportional hazards multivariate models, logarithmic LA volume was an independent predictor of AF, incremental to clinical risk factors. After adjusting for age, sex, valvular heart disease, and hypertension, a 30% larger LA volume was associated with a 43% greater risk of AF, incremental to history of congestive heart failure (hazard ratio [HR], 1.887; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.230-2.895; P = .004), myocardial infarction (HR, 1.751; 95% CI, 1.189-2.577; P = .004), and diabetes (HR, 1.734; 95% CI, 1.066-2.819; P = .03). Left atrial volume remained incremental to combined clinical risk factors and M-mode LA dimension for prediction of AF (P < .001).

Conclusion: This study showed that a larger LA volume was associated with a higher risk of AF in older patients. The predictive value of LA volume was incremental to that of clinical risk profile and conventional M-mode LA dimension.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atrial Fibrillation / diagnostic imaging
  • Atrial Fibrillation / etiology*
  • Cardiac Volume*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Comorbidity
  • Echocardiography
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors