The aim of this study is to describe phasic volume changes of the left atrium (LA) in healthy young and elderly subjects at rest and during pharmacological stress (PS). LA maximum size is related to cardiovascular mortality. LA has passive, active, and conduit function for left ventricular (LV) filling. We hypothesized that changes in LV compliance from normal aging are reflected in LA volume changes and that PS will augment these differences. We enrolled twenty young (20-30 yr) and twenty elderly (60-70 yr) healthy subjects and measured their LV and LA volumes by cardiac magnetic resonance imaging at rest and during dobutamine and glycopyrrolate stress. We identified LA minimum, maximum, and middiastolic volumes and the volume before atrial contraction. LA emptying volumes were calculated as LA passive and active emptying volumes and LA conduit volume. We also calculated LV peak filling rates (LVPFRs). Both at rest and during PS, LA maximum and minimum volumes were similar in the groups, whereas middiastolic volume was higher in the elderly. During PS, a marked decrease in LA passive emptying function and a corresponding increase in LA active emptying function were seen in the elderly but not in the young. At rest, LVPFR was lower in the elderly, and during PS this difference was augmented. The aging heart has reduced LVPFR, which is reflected in reduced LA passive and compensatory increased LA active volumetric contribution to LV stroke volume. These age-related differences are evident at rest and highly augmented during both dobutamine and glycopyrrolate stress.
American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 2012, Vol 303, Issue 12
Comparative Study; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't