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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007 Sep 25;50(13):1254-62. Epub 2007 Sep 10.

Role of left atrial size in risk stratification and prognosis of patients undergoing stress echocardiography.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital and Columbia University, New York, New York 10025, USA.



The purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of diastolic dysfunction as measured by left atrial (LA) size in patients undergoing stress echocardiography (SE).


Left atrial size is a surrogate marker of diastolic function. However, its prognostic value in patients referred for SE is not well defined.


We evaluated 2,705 patients (60 +/- 13 years, 47% men) undergoing SE (56% dobutamine). Patients with significant mitral valve disease (mitral stenosis or > or = moderate mitral regurgitation) were excluded. Enlarged LA was defined as a LA size indexed to body surface area > or =2.4 cm/m2. Follow-up (mean 2.7 +/- 1.0 years) for nonfatal myocardial infarction or cardiac death (n = 122) was obtained.


A dilated LA was able to further risk-stratify both the normal and abnormal SE groups. In the presence of a dilated LA, an abnormal SE portends a worse prognosis compared with patients with normal LA size. Cox proportional modeling showed that a dilated LA added incremental value over traditional risk factors, stress electrocardiographic, rest echocardiographic, and SE variables for the prediction of hard events (global chi-square increased from 90.4 to 113.1 to 176.1 to 184.4 to 190.5; p < 0.05 all groups). Left atrial size was a significant predictor of events independent of left ventricular systolic dysfunction and ischemia (relative risk = 1.84, 95% confidence interval 1.19 to 2.85; p = 0.006).


In patients referred for stress echocardiography, LA size provides independent and incremental value over standard risk factors including left ventricular systolic dysfunction and ischemia. Left atrial size is a powerful prognosticator and should be routinely used in the prognostic interpretation of stress echocardiography.

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