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Increased baseline ECG R-R dispersion predicts improvement in systolic function after atrial fibrillation ablation.



Atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with left ventricular (LV) systolic dysfunction which may improve after AF ablation. We hypothesised that increased ventricular irregularity, as measured by R-R dispersion on the baseline ECG, would predict improvement in the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) after AF ablation.


Patients with LVEF <50% at two US centres (2007-2016), having both a preablation and postablation echocardiogram or cardiac MRI, were included. LVEF improvement was defined as absolute increase in LVEF by >7.5%. Multivariable logistic regression (restricted to echocardiographic/ECG variables) was performed to evaluate predictors of LVEF improvement.


Fifty-two patients were included in this study. LVEF improved in 30 patients (58%) and was unchanged/worsened in 22 patients (42%). Those with versus without LVEF improvement had an increased baseline R-R dispersion (645±155 ms vs 537±154 ms, p=0.02, respectively). The average baseline heart rate in all patients was 93 beats per minute. After multivariable logistic regression, increased R-R dispersion (OR 1.59, 95% CI 1.00 to 2.55, p=0.03) predicted LVEF improvement.


Increased R-R dispersion on ECG was independently associated with improved systolic function after AF ablation. This broadens the existing knowledge of arrhythmia-induced cardiomyopathy, demonstrating that irregular electrical activation (as measured by increased R-R dispersion on ECG) is associated with a cardiomyopathy capable of improving after AF ablation.

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