Indexed on: 15 Aug '08Published on: 15 Aug '08Published in: Journal of Human Hypertension
Left atrial enlargement is frequently observed in many cardiac diseases. One of the main determinants of left atrial size is ventricular diastolic function. It has recently been suggested that left atrial volume might be the morphophysiologic expression of long-term modifications induced by diastolic function. Furthermore, left ventricular remodelling, such as it happens in hypertensive patients, is another important determinant of atrial volume. All the volumetric modifications of the left atrium, during cardiac cycle, are involved in hypertensive damage. Therefore, left atrial function impairment represents the result of morphological and haemodynamic alterations observed in hypertension. Actually, many techniques, invasive and non-invasive, are available with the purpose to investigate the real atrial dimensions and provide a suitable assessment of atrial function. Recently, it has been demonstrated that the degree of left atrial enlargement is associated with adverse prognosis in different clinical setting. The predictive value of left atrial volume seems to be independent of left ventricular systolic and diastolic function, but the use of left atrial volume for risk stratification is yet an evolving science: more data are required with respect to the natural history of left atrial remodelling in disease, the degree of left atrial modifiability with therapy and whether regression of left atrial size translates into improved cardiovascular outcome.Journal of Human Hypertension advance online publication, 14 August 2008; doi:10.1038/jhh.2008.96.