The best method for detecting early left ventricular (LV) dysfunction in patients with chronic aortic regurgitation is uncertain. Variables used previously to identify LV dysfunction have included (1) angiographic measurements to identify an LV end-systolic volume index (LVESVI) ≥60 ml/m2, (2) echocardiographic measurements to identify LV end-systolic dimension (LVESD) ≥5.5 cm or LV fractional shortening ≤25%, and (3) depressed LV ejection fraction (EF) at rest and/or an LVEF or LVESVI that deteriorates with exercise as detected by myocardial scintigraphic measurements. The hypothesis was tested that radionuclide ventriculography with exercise allows earlier detection of important LV dysfunction in patients with aortic regurgitation than the other variables. In 15 consecutive asymptomatic or only minimally symptomatic patients (8 men and 7 women, mean age 44 years) with isolated 2 to 4+ aortic regurgitation (1) rest and exercise-gated radionuclide ventriculography, (2) M-mode echocardiography, and (3) LV angiography were performed. No other cause of LV dysfunction was apparent in 13 patients; 1 patient had moderate systemic arterial hypertension and 1 had 50% luminal diameter narrowing of the proximal left anterior descending coronary artery. Ten patients did not have an increase in LVEF >0.05 EF units at peak exercise (0.58 ± 0.11 to 0.50 ± 0.12, mean ± standard deviation [SD]) (Group 2), whereas 5 had a normal LVEF response to exercise (0.63 ± 0.08 to 0.69 ± 0.07) (Group 1). Eight of the 10 patients with abnormal LVEF responses to exercise had a decrease in LVEF >10% during exercise. The same 8 patients also had an increase in LVESVI with exercise, whereas the 5 patients with normal LVEF responses to exercise had normal or blunted LVESVI responses to exercise. Only 4 of the 10 patients with exercise-induced LV dysfunction had an angiographic LVESVI ≥60 ml/m2, and only 1 had an echocardiographically determined LVESD ≥5.5 cm. Serial follow-up rest and exercise scintigraphic and echocardiographic measurements were made in 8 of the patients a mean of 9.4 months after the initial measurements; 3 patients were in Group 1 and 5 in Group 2. The 5 patients in Group 2 again demonstated abnormal LV function during exercise stress, and 2 of the 3 patients in Group 1 then demonstrated an abnormal LV functional response during exercise. Therefore, it is concluded that (1) exercise radionuclide ventriculography identifies LV dysfunction earlier than traditionally used assessments, (2) LV dysfunction appears to persist in patients that demonstrate it and develop in others that did not have it originally, and (3) echocardiographic dilatation of the LVESD to 5.5 cm appears to be a late and relatively unusual occurrence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine