Adverse effects of permanent atrial fibrillation on heart failure in patients with preserved left ventricular function and chronic right apical pacing for complete heart block
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The impact of atrial fibrillation (AF) on heart failure (HF) was evaluated in patients with preserved left ventricular (LV) function and long-term right ventricular (RV) pacing for complete heart block.
Clinical, echocardiographic, and laboratory parameters of HF were assessed in 35 patients with established AF who had undergone ablation of the atrioventricular node and pacemaker implantation (Group A) and 31 patients who received dual-chamber pacing for spontaneous complete heart block (Group B).
During a follow-up period of 12.7 ± 7.5 years, New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class increased from 1.3 ± 0.5 to 2.1 ± 0.6 (p < 0.0001) in Group A, and from 1.3 ± 0.4 to 1.6 ± 0.7 (p < 0.01) in Group B. Left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) decreased from 59.7 ± 5.1 to 53.0 ± 8.2 (p < 0.0001) in Group A, but remained stable (58.6 ± 4.2 vs. 56.9 ± 7.0 %, p = 0,21) in Group B. At the end of follow-up, markers of LV function were moderately depressed in Group A compared with those in Group B: NYHA class 2.1 ± 0.6 versus 1.6 ± 0.7, p = 0.001; LVEF 53.0 ± 8.2 versus 56.9 ± 7.0 %, p < 0.05; LV diastolic diameter 53.6 ± 5.8 mm versus 50.7 ± 4.9 mm, p < 0.05; N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) 1116.8 ± 883.9 versus 622.9 ± 1059.4 pg/ml, p < 0.05. Progression of paroxysmal AF to permanent AF during follow-up was common, while new onset of AF was rare. Permanent AF was an independent predictor of declining LVEF >10 %, increasing NYHA class ≥1, and NT-proBNP levels >1,000 pg/ml.
Permanent AF was associated with adverse effects on LV function and symptoms of HF in patients with long-term RV pacing for complete heart block, and appears to play an important role in the development of HF in this specific patient cohort.