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Open access

Ruchika Meel, Bijoy K Khandheria, Ferande Peters, Elena Libhaber, Samantha Nel and Mohammed R Essop

Objective

Normal cut-off values for left atrial (LA) size and function may be altered by aging and ethnic differences. No age-related reference values for LA volumetric measurements or LA strain exist in Africans. We aimed to establish normal age-appropriate values of LA size and function in black Africans. Additionally, we studied the correlation between age, LA strain and volumetric parameters.

Methods

In this prospective, cross-sectional study of 120 individuals (mean age 38.7 ± 12.8 years, 50% men), subjects were classified into four age groups: 18–29, 30–39, 40–49 and 50–70 years. LA volumes were measured by biplane Simpson’s method, and Philips QLAB 9 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) speckle-tracking software was used to measure LA peak strain in the reservoir (Ɛ R) and contractile phase (Ɛ CT).

Results

No significant differences in the maximum and minimum LAVi were noted among the four age categories (P = 0.1, P = 0.2). LA volumetric function assessment showed no difference in reservoir function between age groups (P > 0.05), conduit function decreased with advancing age (r = −0.3, P < 0.001) and booster function displayed a significant increase with age (LA active emptying volume index, P = 0.001). There was a significant decrease in LA Ɛ R (P < 0.0001) in the older age groups, whereas Ɛ CT remained unchanged (P = 0.27).

Conclusion

Age-related changes in LA reservoir, conduit and contractile function in black Africans are similar to those observed in other populations, as was the trend of declining Ɛ R with advancing age. The preservation of Ɛ CT with increasing age requires further analysis.

Open access

Ruchika Meel, Ferande Peters, Bijoy K Khandheria, Elena Libhaber and Mohammed Essop

Background

Chronic mitral regurgitation (MR) historically has been shown to primarily affect left ventricular (LV) function. The impact of increased left atrial (LA) volume in MR on morbidity and mortality has been highlighted recently, yet the LA does not feature as prominently in the current guidelines as the LV. Thus, we aimed to study LA and LV function in chronic rheumatic MR using traditional volumetric parameters and strain imaging.

Methods

Seventy-seven patients with isolated moderate or severe chronic rheumatic MR and 40 controls underwent echocardiographic examination. LV and LA function were assessed with conventional echocardiography and 2D strain imaging.

Results

LA stiffness index was greater in chronic rheumatic MR than controls (0.95 ± 1.89 vs 0.16 ± 0.13, P = 0.009). LA dysfunction was noted in the reservoir, conduit, and contractile phases compared with controls (P < 0.05). LA peak reservoir strain (ƐR), LA peak contractile strain, and LV peak systolic strain were decreased in chronic rheumatic MR compared with controls (P < 0.05). Eighty-six percent of patients had decreased LA ƐR and 58% had depressed LV peak systolic strain. Decreased ƐR and normal LV peak systolic strain were noted in 42%. Thirteen percent had normal ƐR and LV peak systolic strain. One patient had normal ƐR with decreased LV peak systolic strain.

Conclusions

In chronic rheumatic MR, there is LA dysfunction in the reservoir, conduit, and contractile phases. In this study, LA dysfunction with or without LV dysfunction was the predominant finding, and thus, LA dysfunction may be an earlier marker of decompensation in chronic rheumatic MR.