Identification of Subclinical Heart Failure With Preserved Ejection Fraction in Patients With Symptomatic Atrial Fibrillation

Ariyaratnam JP; Elliott AD; Mishima RS; Kadhim K; McNamee O; Kuklik P; Emami M; Malik V; Fitzgerald JL; Gallagher C; Lau DH; Sanders P;

JACC. Heart failure [JACC Heart Fail] 2023 Aug 21.
Date of Electronic Publication: 2023 Aug 21.

Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) and heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) commonly coexist. We hypothesize that patients with symptomatic AF but without overt clinical HF commonly exhibit subclinical HFpEF according to established hemodynamic criteria.
Objectives: The authors sought to use invasive hemodynamics to investigate the prevalence and implications of subclinical HFpEF in AF ablation patients.
Methods: Consecutive symptomatic AF ablation patients were prospectively recruited. Diagnosis of subclinical HFpEF was undertaken by invasive assessment of left atrial pressure (LAP). Participants had HFpEF if the baseline mean LAP was >15 mm Hg and early HFpEF if the mean LAP was >15 mm Hg after a 500-mL fluid challenge. LA compliance was assessed invasively by monitoring the LAP and LA diameter during direct LA infusion of 15 mL/kg normal saline. LA compliance was calculated as Δ LA diameter/ΔLAP. LA cardiomyopathy was further studied with exercise echocardiography and electrophysiology study. Functional impact was evaluated using cardiopulmonary exercise testing and the AF Symptom Severity questionnaire.
Results: Of 120 participants, 57 (47.5%) had HFpEF, 31 (25.8%) had early HFpEF, and 32 (26.7%) had no HFpEF. Both HFpEF and early HFpEF were associated with lower LA compliance compared with those without HFpEF (P < 0.001). Participants with HFpEF and early HFpEF also displayed decreased LA emptying fraction (P = 0.004), decreased LA voltage (P = 0.001), decreased VO 2peak (P < 0.001), and increased AF symptom burden (P = 0.002) compared with those without HFpEF.
Conclusions: Subclinical HFpEF is common in AF ablation patients and is characterized by a LA cardiomyopathy, decreased cardiopulmonary reserve and increased symptom burden. The diagnosis of HFpEF may identify patients with AF with the potential to benefit from novel HFpEF therapies. (Characterising Left Atrial Function and Compliance in Atrial Fibrillation; ACTRN12620000639921).
Competing Interests: Funding Support and Author Disclosures Drs Ariyaratnam, Mishima, Kadhim, Emami, Malik, and Fitzgerald are supported by Postgraduate Scholarships from the University of Adelaide. Dr Elliott is supported by a Future Leader Fellowship from the National Heart Foundation of Australia. Dr Gallagher is supported by a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the University of Adelaide. Dr Lau is supported by a Mid-career fellowship from The Hospital Research Foundation. Dr Sanders is supported by a Practitioner Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. Dr Lau reports that the University of Adelaide has received on his behalf lecture and/or consulting fees from Abbott Medical, Bayer, Biotronik, BMS Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Medtronic, and MicroPort CRM. Dr Sanders has served on the advisory board of Medtronic, Abbott Medical, Boston-Scientific, Pacemate, and CathRx. Dr Sanders reports that the University of Adelaide has received on his behalf lecture and/or consulting fees from Medtronic, Boston-Scientific, and Abbott Medical; and reports that the University of Adelaide has received on his behalf research funding from Medtronic, Abbott Medical, Boston Scientific, and Microport CRM. All other authors have reported that they have no relationships relevant to the contents of this paper to disclose.