Background: Left ventricular diastolic dysfunction is common in patients with systolic heart failure and the restrictive type of filling pattern appears to be associated with increased cardiac mortality. Both artrial and brain (or ventricular) natriuretic peptides are also proven markers of the severity of heart failure. The aim of this study was to determine in a large cohort of patients with systolic heart failure whether diastolic abnormalities, and in particular the restrictive filling pattern of transmitral flow velocity, correlate with plasma atrial and brain natriuretic peptide levels.
Methods: Sixty-eight consecutive patients with symptomatic systolic heart failure (ejection fraction < 0.5) underwent two-dimensional Doppler echocardiography of left ventricular systolic and diastolic function, together with measurement of atrial and brain natriuretic peptides.
Results: The restrictive filling pattern was present in 62%, the abnormal relaxation pattern in 31% and only 7% were normal. Atrial and brain natriuretic peptide (ANP/BNP) levels were significantly higher in the restrictive compared to the abnormal relaxation group (ANP: 202.2 +/- 31.7 vs 102.5 +/- 22.1 pg.ml-1, P = 0.012; BNP: 277.8 +/- 27.7 vs 162.4 +/- 21.9 pg.ml-1, P = 0.002). In addition, a restrictive filling pattern was associated with lower ejection fractions (P = 0.026), higher pulmonary artery systolic pressure (P < 0.001), larger left atrial size (P = 0.044), and were more likely to be in New York Heart Association class III or IV than those with an abnormal relaxation pattern (P = 0.007). Both atrial and brain natriuretic peptides correlated inversely with ejection fraction (P < 0.001), fractional shortening (P < 0.001), and positively with pulmonary artery pressure (P = 0.004 and 0.001 respectively). There were no significant correlations between single diastolic parameters and atrial or brain natriuretic peptide levels for the total patient group except between mitral peak A wave velocity and brain natriuretic peptides (r = -0.3, P = 0.01). For those with abnormal relaxation pattern mitral, valve E-wave deceleration time correlated significantly with both atrial and brain natriuretic peptide levels (P < 0.01).
Conclusions: This study confirms that the restrictive filling pattern of transmitral flow velocity is a marker of more severe heart failure, as indicated by its association with higher atrial and brain natriuretic peptide levels, lower ejection fraction and higher pulmonary artery pressure. Thus, this easily obtained Doppler-derived marker of diastolic dysfunction is useful for identifying those patients with more severe heart failure.