Left atrial stiffness and its implications for cardiac function

Future Cardiol. 2007 Mar;3(2):175-83. doi: 10.2217/14796678.3.2.175.


Proper atrial function is essential for overall cardiovascular performance, mainly by its four major functions, namely, bioelectrical, hormonal, metabolic and hemodynamic. With regard to the latter, atria modulate ventricular filling by smoothing the transformation of the continuous venous return to the intermittent filling pattern of the ventricles during diastole through three main components: a phase of reservoir mainly during ventricular systole, a conduit phase during ventricular diastole and an active phase in late ventricular diastole. Although the atria assume a dynamic role in ventricular filling progression, atrial function and emptying pattern is, conversely, highly influenced by the ventricular diastolic wall stress, underlying the close connection observed between these chambers. This review focuses essentially on left atrial mechanical role, particularly on the physiological and clinical consequences of disturbed atrial compliance.