Atrial fibrosis by cardiac MRI is a correlate for atrial stiffness in patients with atrial fibrillation.

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A relationship between left atrial strain and pressure has been demonstrated in many studies, but not in an atrial fibrillation (AF) cohort. In this work, we hypothesized that elevated left atrial (LA) tissue fibrosis might mediate and confound the LA strain vs. pressure relationship, resulting instead in a relationship between LA fibrosis and stiffness index (mean LA pressure/LA reservoir strain). Sixty-seven patients with AF underwent a standard cardiac MR exam including long-axis cine views (2 and 4-ch) and a free-breathing high resolution three-dimensional late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) of the atrium (N = 41), within 30 days prior to AF ablation, at which procedure invasive mean left atrial pressure (LAP) was measured. LV and LA Volumes, EF, and comprehensive analysis of LA strains (strain and strain rates and strain timings during the atrial reservoir, conduit and active, i.e. active atrial contraction, phases) were measured and LA fibrosis content (LGE (ml)) was assessed from 3D LGE volumes. LA LGE was well correlated to atrial stiffness index overall (R = 0.59, p < 0.001), and among patient subgroups. Pressure was only correlated to maximal LA volume (R = 0.32) and the time to peak reservoir strain rate (R = 0.32) (both p < 0.01), among all functional measurements. LA reservoir strain was strongly correlated with LAEF (R = 0.95, p < 0.001) and LA minimum volume (r = 0.82, p < 0.001). In our AF cohort, pressure is correlated to maximum LA volume and time to peak reservoir strain. LA pressure/ LA reservoir strain, a metric of stiffness, correlates with LA fibrosis (LA LGE), reflecting Hook's Law.




Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Medicine, Fellows and Residents

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