Transcranial Doppler evaluation of cerebral blood flow in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation

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Cerebral blood flow was measured by transcranial Dopplersonography (TCD) in 15 patients during and after an attack of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. During the attack the mean flow velocity (MFV) was reduced significantly in the middle cerebral artery (p<0.05) and nonsignificantly in the other arteries. The pulsatility index (PI) was reduced in all the arteries but not significantly. During the fibrillation phase the MFV and PI tended to decrease as the heart rate increased. None of the patients showed clinical signs of cerebral ischemia during the attacks. The absence of such signs despite the reduced cerebral blood flow in atrial fibrillation is probably due to the activation of mechanisms of autoregulation.


Il flusso ematico cerebrale, valutato con Doppler Transcranico (TCD), è stato misurato in 15 pazienti durante e dopo un episodio di fibrillazione atriale parossistica. Durante l'attacco di fibrillazione la Mean Flow Velocity (MFV) è risultata ridotta in modo significativo nella cerebrale media (p<0.05), mentre si è ridotta in modo non significativo nelle altre arterie.

I valori dell'indice di pulsatilità (PI) sono risultati ridotti in tutte le arterie ma non significativamente. La correlazione tra la velocità di flusso, il PI e la frequenza cardiaca durante la fase di fibrillazione ha mostrato una tendenza alla riduzione della MFV e del PI con l'aumentare della frequenza. Durante gli episodi di fibrillazione atriale nessuno dei pazienti ha manifestato segni clinici di ischemia cerebrale.

I risultati indicano che, in corso di fibrillazione atriale, si verifica una riduzione di flusso cerebrale che non si accompagna a sintomi di ischemia cerebrale verosimilmente per l'attivazione dei meccanismi di autiregolazione.

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Correspondence to Dr. R. Totaro.

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Totaro, R., Corridoni, C., Marini, C. et al. Transcranial Doppler evaluation of cerebral blood flow in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. Ital J Neuro Sci 14, 451–454 (1993).

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Key Words

  • Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation
  • transcranial Doppler
  • flow velocity
  • middle cerebral artery