March 2024

The paper A quantitative assessment of cerebral hemodynamic perturbations associated with long R-R intervals in atrial fibrillation: A pilot-case-based experience, by D. Canova, S. Roatta, A. Saglietto, S. Scarsoglio, N. R. Gianotto, A. Piccotti, G. M. De Ferrari, L. Ridolfi, and M. Anselmino has been published in Medicina, 60(4), 531, (2024).



Background and Objectives: Atrial fibrillation (AF) results in systemic hemodynamic perturbations which impact cerebral circulation, possibly contributing to the development of dementia. However, evidence documenting effects in cerebral perfusion is scarce. The aim of this study is to provide a quantitative characterization of the magnitude and time course of the cerebral hemodynamic response to the short hypotensive events associated with long R-R intervals, as detected by near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). 

Materials and Methods: Cerebral NIRS signals and arterial blood pressure were continuously recorded along with an electrocardiogram in twelve patients with AF undergoing elective electrical cardioversion (ECV). The top 0.5–2.5% longest R-R intervals during AF were identified in each patient and used as triggers to carry out the triggered averaging of hemodynamic signals. The average curves were then characterized in terms of the latency, magnitude, and duration of the observed effects, and the possible occurrence of an overshoot was also investigated. 

Results: The triggered averages revealed that long R-R intervals produced a significant drop in diastolic blood pressure (−13.7 ± 6.1 mmHg) associated with an immediate drop in cerebral blood volume (THI: −0.92 ± 0.46%, lasting 1.9 ± 0.8 s), followed by a longer-lasting decrease in cerebral oxygenation (TOI: −0.79 ± 0.37%, lasting 5.2 ± 0.9 s, p < 0.01). The recovery of the TOI was generally followed by an overshoot (+1.06 ± 0.12%). These effects were progressively attenuated in response to R-R intervals of a shorter duration. 

Conclusions: Long R-R intervals cause a detectable and consistent cerebral hemodynamic response which concerns both cerebral blood volume and oxygenation and outlasts the duration of the systemic perturbation. These effects are compatible with the activation of dynamic autoregulatory mechanisms in response to the hypotensive stimulus.

Full text is available here.