Left atrial function is impaired in cirrhosis: a speckle tracking echocardiographic study
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- Sampaio, F., Pimenta, J., Bettencourt, N. et al. Hepatol Int (2014) 8: 146. doi:10.1007/s12072-013-9469-5
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Abnormalities in left ventricular systolic and diastolic function have been described in patients with cirrhosis. There are no studies on left atrial (LA) function in these patients. We aimed to evaluate LA function in cirrhosis patients using myocardial deformation imaging.
We included 111 hospitalized and ambulatory patients with cirrhosis and 18 healthy controls. A comprehensive echocardiographic evaluation was performed; LA strain was assessed using velocity vector imaging.
Peak atrial longitudinal strain at the end of ventricular systole was lower in patients [41.9 % (34.4–51.0) vs. 48.0 % (42.0–57.1), p = 0.02]. No differences were found in atrial strain before atrial contraction in patients and controls [17.5 % (14.3–22.4) vs. 20.7 % (14.1–26.3), p = 0.14]. On multivariate linear regression analysis, E′ velocity was the only variable independently associated with peak atrial longitudinal strain (R2 = 47 %). No correlation was found between the LA volume index (LAVI) and peak atrial longitudinal strain (r = −0.136, p = 0.219). Peak atrial longitudinal strain performed better than LAVI in identifying patients with elevated filling pressures (AUC = 0.81 vs. 0.52).
Patients with cirrhosis have abnormal atrial reservoir function, which may be related to the same factors associated with impaired ventricular relaxation. LA enlargement in cirrhosis may not reflect elevated filling pressures and should not be used as an isolated marker of diastolic dysfunction. The atrial “pump” function does not seem to be affected in cirrhosis patients.