Speckle echocardiographic left atrial strain and stiffness index as predictors of maintenance of sinus rhythm after cardioversion for atrial fibrillation: a prospective study

Cardiovasc Ultrasound. 2012 Dec 3;10:48. doi: 10.1186/1476-7120-10-48.


Background: Echocardiographic left atrial (LA) strain parameters have been associated with atrial fibrillation (AF) in prior studies. Our goal was to determine if strain measures [peak systolic longitudinal strain (LAS) and stiffness index (LASt)] changed after cardioversion (CV); and their relation to AF recurrence.

Methods and results: 46 participants with persistent AF and 41 age-matched participants with no AF were recruited. LAS and LASt were measured before and immediately after CV using 2D speckle tracking imaging (2DSI). Maintenance of sinus rhythm was assessed over a 6-month follow up. Mean LAS was lower, and mean LASt higher, in participants with AF before CV as compared to control group (11.9±1.0 vs 35.7±1.7, p<0.01 and 1.31±0.17 vs 0.23±0.01, p<0.01, respectively). There was an increase in the mean LAS immediately after CV (11.9±1.0 vs 15.9±1.3, p<0.01), whereas mean LASt did not change significantly after CV (p=0.62). Although neither LAS nor LASt were independently associated with AF recurrence during the follow-up period, change in LAS after cardioversion (post-CV LAS-pre-CV LAS) was significantly higher among individuals who remained in sinus rhythm when compared to individuals with recurrent AF (3.6±1.1 vs 0.4±0.8, p=0.02).

Conclusions: LAS and LASt differed between participants with and without AF, irrespective of the rhythm at the time of echocardiographic assessment. Baseline LAS and LASt were not associated with AF recurrence. However, change in LAS after CV may be a useful predictor of recurrent arrhythmia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrial Fibrillation / diagnostic imaging*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / therapy*
  • Echocardiography, Doppler*
  • Electric Countershock*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Atria / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Treatment Outcome