Atrial Fibrillation in Heart Failure With Preserved Ejection Fraction: Association With Exercise Capacity, Left Ventricular Filling Pressures, Natriuretic Peptides, and Left Atrial Volume

Carolyn S P Lam, Michiel Rienstra, Wan Ting Tay, Licette C Y Liu, Yoran M Hummel, Peter van der Meer, Rudolf A de Boer, Isabelle C Van Gelder, Dirk J van Veldhuisen, Adriaan A Voors, Elke S Hoendermis
JACC. Heart Failure 2017, 5 (2): 92-98

OBJECTIVES: This study sought to study the association of atrial fibrillation (AF) with exercise capacity, left ventricular filling pressure, natriuretic peptides, and left atrial size in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF).

BACKGROUND: The diagnosis of HFpEF in patients with AF remains a challenge because both contribute to impaired exercise capacity, and increased natriuretic peptides and left atrial volume.

METHODS: We studied 94 patients with symptomatic heart failure and left ventricular ejection fractions ≥45% using treadmill cardiopulmonary exercise testing and right- and/or left-sided cardiac catheterization with simultaneous echocardiography.

RESULTS: During catheterization, 62 patients were in sinus rhythm, and 32 patients had AF. There were no significant differences in age, sex, body size, comorbidities, or medications between groups; however, patients with AF had lower peak oxygen consumption (VO2 ) compared with those with sinus rhythm (10.8 ± 3.1 ml/min/kg vs. 13.5 ± 3.8 ml/min/kg; p = 0.002). Median (25th to 75th percentile) N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) was higher in AF versus sinus rhythm (1,689; 851 to 2,637 pg/ml vs. 490; 272 to 1,019 pg/ml; p < 0.0001). Left atrial volume index (LAVI) was higher in AF than sinus rhythm (57.8 ± 17.0 ml/m2 vs. 42.5 ± 15.1 ml/m2 ; p = 0.001). Invasive hemodynamics showed higher mean pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (PCWP) (19.9 ± 3.7 vs. 15.2 ± 6.8) in AF versus sinus rhythm (all p < 0.001), with a trend toward higher left ventricular end-diastolic pressure (17.7 ± 3.0 mm Hg vs. 15.7 ± 6.9 mm Hg; p = 0.06). After adjusting for clinical covariates and mean PCWP, AF remained associated with reduced peak VO2 increased log NT-proBNP, and enlarged LAVI (all p ≤0.005).

CONCLUSIONS: AF is independently associated with greater exertional intolerance, natriuretic peptide elevation, and left atrial remodeling in HFpEF. These data support the application of different thresholds of NT-proBNP and LAVI for the diagnosis of HFpEF in the presence of AF versus the absence of AF.

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