Is echocardiography valid and reproducible in patients with atrial fibrillation? A systematic review

Europace. 2017 Sep 1;19(9):1427-1438. doi: 10.1093/europace/eux027.


Aims: Echocardiography is vital in the routine assessment and management of atrial fibrillation (AF). We performed a systematic review of the validity and reproducibility of echocardiographic left ventricular systolic and diastolic function in AF, and optimal acquisition methods.

Methods and results: Online databases were searched for studies in patients with AF at the time of echocardiography (1960 to August 2015), prospectively registered with PROSPERO (CRD42015025297). The systematic review included 32 studies from 3 066 search results (1 968 patients with AF). Average age was 67 years, 33% were women, mean LVEF 53% (±10%), and average E/e' 11.7 (±2.7). Data on the validity and reproducibility of systolic indices were extremely limited. In contrast, diastolic parameters demonstrated correlation with invasive filling pressure and adequate reproducibility: E/e' (n = 444) r = 0.47 to 0.79; IVRT (n = 177) r = -0.70 to -0.95; E/Vp` (n = 55) r = 0.63 and 0.65; pulmonary vein diastolic flow (n = 67) r = -0.80 and -0.91. Elevated E/e' (>15) was associated with functional capacity, quality of life, and impaired prognosis. For optimal acquisition in AF patients, cardiac cycles with controlled heart rate (<100 beats/min) and similar preceding and pre-preceding RR intervals are required. Cardiac cycle length and equivalence were more important than the number of beats averaged.

Conclusion: With careful selection of appropriate cardiac cycles, echocardiography is a valid tool to identify diastolic dysfunction in AF, and E/e' is an independent marker of clinical status and adverse prognosis. However, data on systolic function was extremely limited and requires further prospective study and assessment of variability in clinical practice.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Diastolic; Echocardiography; Ejection fraction; Heart failure; Reproducibility; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrial Fibrillation / diagnostic imaging*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology
  • Diastole
  • Echocardiography*
  • Female
  • Heart / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart / physiopathology
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Stroke Volume
  • Systole
  • Ventricular Function, Left*