April 2023

The paper Beat-to-beat finger photoplethysmography in atrial fibrillation patients undergoing electrical cardioversion, by A. Saglietto, S. Scarsoglio, D. Canova, G. M. De Ferrari, L. Ridolfi, M. Anselmino  has been published in Scientific Reports, 136751 (2023).



Atrial fibrillation (AF)-induced peripheral microcirculatory alterations have poorly been investigated. The present study aims to expand current knowledge through a beat-to-beat analysis of non-invasive finger photoplethysmography (PPG) in AF patients restoring sinus rhythm by electrical cardioversion (ECV). Continuous non-invasive arterial blood pressure and left middle finger PPG pulse oximetry waveform (POW) signals were continuously recorded before and after elective ECV of consecutive AF or atrial flutter (AFL) patients. The main metrics (mean, standard deviation, coefficient of variation), as well as a beat-to-beat analysis of the pulse pressure (PP) and POW beat-averaged value (aPOW), were computed to compare pre- and post-ECV phases. 53 patients (mean age 69 ± 8 years, 79% males) were enrolled; cardioversion was successful in restoring SR in 51 (96%) and signal post-processing was feasible in 46 (87%) patients. In front of a non-significant difference in mean PP (pre-ECV: 51.96 ± 13.25, post-ECV: 49.58 ± 10.41 mmHg; p = 0.45), mean aPOW significantly increased after SR restoration (pre-ECV: 0.39 ± 0.09, post-ECV: 0.44 ± 0.06 a.u.; p < 0.001). Moreover, at beat-to-beat analysis linear regression yielded significantly different slope (m) for the PP (RR) relationship compared to aPOW(RR) [PP(RR): 0.43 ± 0.18; aPOW(RR): 1.06 ± 0.17; p < 0.001]. Long (> 95th percentile) and short (< 5th percentile) RR intervals were significantly more irregular in the pre-ECV phases for both PP and aPOW; however, aPOW signal suffered more fluctuations compared to PP (p < 0.001 in both phases). Present findings suggest that AF-related hemodynamic alterations are more manifest at the peripheral (aPOW) rather than at the upstream macrocirculatory level (PP). Restoring sinus rhythm increases mean peripheral microvascular perfusion and decreases variability of the microvascular hemodynamic signals. Future dedicated studies are required to determine if AF-induced peripheral microvascular alterations might relate to long-term prognostic effects.

Full text is available here.