Associations of Cardiac Mechanics With Exercise Capacity: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis

Ravi B. Patel, Benjamin H. Freed, Lauren Beussink-Nelson, Norrina B. Allen, Suma H. Konety, Wendy S. Post, Joseph Yeboah, Dalane W. Kitzman, Alain G. Bertoni, Sanjiv J. Shah*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Lower exercise capacity, as measured by 6-minute walk distance (6MWD), is associated with incident heart failure (HF). Among those without HF, the associations of measures of cardiac function with 6MWD are unclear, and may provide insight regarding the risk of incident HF. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to understand the relationships between cardiac function and exercise capacity. Methods: This study evaluated the associations of cardiac mechanics with 6MWD in the sixth examination of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Echocardiography (2-dimensional, Doppler, and speckle-tracking) was performed at rest and after passive leg raise to evaluate functional reserve after intravascular volume challenge. Results: Of 2,096 participants without HF (mean age 73 years, 48% men, 58% non-White), individuals with lower (worse) left atrial (LA) reservoir strain were older and had higher blood pressure. Lower resting LA reservoir strain (β coefficient per SD decrease: −5.0; 95% confidence interval [CI]: −8.8 to −1.3 m; p = 0.009), inability to augment LA reservoir strain after passive leg raise (β coefficient per SD decrease: −5.8; 95% CI: −9.1 to −2.5 m; p < 0.001), and lower right atrial reservoir strain (β coefficient per SD decrease: −4.4; 95% CI: −7.8 to −1.1 m; p = 0.01) were associated with shorter 6MWD. Worse left ventricular (LV) diastolic function was also associated with lower 6MWD. There were no independent associations of measures of LV systolic function (global longitudinal strain, circumferential strain, ejection fraction) with 6MWD. Conclusions: Among individuals without HF, worse biatrial function, lack of LA functional reserve, and worse LV diastolic function were associated with reduced submaximal exercise capacity. Therapies aimed to improve these functional domains may increase exercise capacity and prevent HF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-257
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 20 2021


  • 6-min walk test
  • cardiac structure and function
  • echocardiography
  • heart failure
  • subclinical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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