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Left Atrial Strain Predicts Subclinical Atrial Fibrillation Detected by Long-term Continuous Monitoring in Elderly High-Risk Individuals.

BACKGROUND: Left atrial (LA) speckle tracking provides detailed information on atrial function. Its utility for predicting subclinical atrial fibrillation (SCAF) is unclear. Therefore, we sought to investigate whether LA strain measures could predict SCAF detected by long-term continuous rhythm monitoring.

METHODS: This was an echocardiographic substudy of the LOOP study, where elderly at risk of stroke were randomized to receive a loop recorder (Reveal LINQ) or control. Participants who received a loop recorder were included in this analysis. Echocardiography included LA reservoir, conduit, and contraction strain. Participants were followed with continuous rhythm monitoring for SCAF (≥6 minutes). Cox proportional hazards regression was applied to adjust for atrial fibrillation risk factors.

RESULTS: In total, 956 participants were eligible for analysis. Median continuous rhythm monitoring was 35 months (IQR, 20-40 months), during which 278 (29%) were diagnosed with SCAF. The mean age was 74 years, 56% were male, median CHA2 DS2 -VASc-score was 4. LA reservoir strain was an independent predictor of SCAF after multivariable adjustments (HR, 1.04 [1.02-1.05], per 1% decrease) and so was contraction strain. The findings were unchanged in competing risk analyses and in participants with normal LA size and diastolic function. Participants with low reservoir strain (<33%) had a significantly higher risk of SCAF compared with those with high reservoir strain (incidence rate, 14.5 [12.4-16.9] versus 9.8 [8.2-11.8] events/100 person-years). The same was noted for low versus high contraction strain.

CONCLUSIONS: LA reservoir and contraction strain are independent predictors of SCAF in elderly at risk of stroke. This also applies to individuals with normal LA size and diastolic function.

REGISTRATION: URL:; Unique identifier: NCT02036450.

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