Left atrial strain in patients with β-thalassemia major: a cross-sectional CMR study

Eur Radiol. 2024 Mar 13. doi: 10.1007/s00330-024-10667-x. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Objectives: The aim of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the association of left atrial (LA) strain parameters with demographics, clinical data, cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) findings, and cardiac complications (heart failure and arrhythmias) in a cohort of patients with β-thalassemia major (β-TM).

Materials and methods: We considered 264 β-TM patients (133 females, 36.79 ± 11.95 years) consecutively enrolled in the Extension-Myocardial Iron Overload in Thalassemia (E-MIOT) project. Moreover, we included 35 sex- and age-matched healthy controls (14 females, mean age 37.36 ± 17.52 years). Reservoir, conduit, and booster LA functions were analysed by CMR feature tracking using dedicated software.

Results: Compared to the healthy control group, β-TM patients demonstrated lower LA reservoir strain and booster strains, as well as LA reservoir and booster strain rates. However, no differences were found in LA conduit deformation parameters. In β-TM patients, ageing, sex, and left ventricle (LV) volume indexes were independent determinants of LA strain parameters. The number of segments with late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) significantly correlated with all LA strain parameters, with the exception of the LA conduit rate. Patients with cardiac complications exhibited significantly impaired strain parameters compared to patients without cardiac complications.

Conclusion: In patients with β-TM, LA strain parameters were impaired compared to control subjects, and they exhibited a significant correlation with the number of LV segments with LGE. Furthermore, patients with cardiac complications had impaired left atrial strain parameters. Clinical relevance statement In patients with β-thalassemia major, left atrial strain parameters were impaired compared to control subjects and emerged as a sensitive marker of cardiac complications, stronger than cardiac iron levels.

Key points: • Compared to healthy subjects, β-thalassemia major patients demonstrated significantly lower left atrial reservoir strain and booster strains, as well as left atrial reservoir and booster strain rates. • In β-thalassemia major, ageing, sex, and left ventricular volume indexes were independent determinants of left atrial strain parameters, while left atrial strain parameters were not correlated with myocardial iron overload. • An independent association between reduced left atrial strain parameters and a history of cardiac complications was found in β-thalassemia major patients.

Keywords: Left atrium; Magnetic resonance imaging; Thalassemia.