The effects of atrial fibrillation on atrial pressure-volume and flow relationships.
To study whether atrial fibrillation might produce local changes in the atrium which could facilitate the tendency of this arrhythmia to become chronic and self-perpetuating, we compared the effect of atrial fibrillation, atrial pacing, and acute volume loading on the perfusion and oxygen consumption of the atrium in anesthetized dogs. Measurement of atrial perfusion with microspheres indicates that during atrial fibrillation, atrial blood flow increases 2- to 3-fold. Right atrial pacing is a significantly less potent metabolic stimulus for atrial vasodilation. Using Doppler velocity recordings of sinus node artery blood flow velocity, a marked increase in velocity is observed within 5 seconds after the initiation of atrial fibrillation. During atrial fibrillation, the sinus node artery reactive hyperemia response is markedly attenuated. Atrial fibrillation acutely decreases atrial distensibility; atrial pressure increased 81 +/- 19% with only a small increase (9.7 +/- 3%) in atrial diameter measured by echocardiography. During sinus rhythm, volume expansion to equivalent levels of atrial pressure as seen during atrial fibrillation increased atrial diameter 21 +/- 5% P less than 0.05. Atrial oxygen consumption determined by the microspectrophotometric method markedly increases during atrial fibrillation, compared to control conditions (12.3 +/- 2.8 vs. 3.9 +/- 0.6 ml O2/min per 100 g, respectively) P less than 0.05. Atrial O2 extraction was 5.5 +/- 0.4 ml O2/ml blood in the control state, and did not change with interventions. There was a linear relationship between left atrial O2 consumption and blood flow in all experimental conditions. Atrial fibrillation therefore alters atrial hemodynamics and metabolism by increasing atrial blood flow and oxygen consumption and decreasing atrial distensibility. Since atrial perfusion during atrial fibrillation is high and atrial flow reserve is limited, it is possible that additional atrial metabolic requirements might lead to atrial ischemia, fibrosis, and, thereby, perpetuation of the arrhythmia.
- Copyright © 1982 by American Heart Association