BACKGROUND. Left atrial (LA) and left ventricular (LV) remodeling are associated with atrial fibrillation (AF). The prospective associations of impairment in cardiac mechanical function, as assessed by speckle-tracking echocardiography, with incident AF are less clear. METHODS. In the Cardiovascular Health Study, a community-based cohort of older adults, participants free of AF with echocardiograms of adequate quality for speckle tracking were included. We evaluated the associations of indices of cardiac mechanics (LA reservoir strain, LV longitudinal strain, and LV early diastolic strain rate) with incident AF. RESULTS. Of 4341 participants with strain imaging, participants with lower LA reservoir strain were older, had more cardiometabolic risk factors, and had lower renal function at baseline. Over a median follow-up of 10 years, 497 (11.4%) participants developed AF. Compared with the highest quartile of LA reservoir strain, the lowest quartile of LA reservoir strain was associated with higher risk of AF after covariate adjustment, including LA volume and LV longitudinal strain (Hazard Ratio [HR], 1.80; 95% CI, 1.31-2.45; P < 0.001). The association of LA reservoir strain and AF was stronger in subgroups with higher blood pressure, NT-proBNP, and LA volumes. There were no associations of LV longitudinal strain and LV early diastolic strain rate with incident AF after adjustment for LA reservoir strain. CONCLUSION. Lower LA reservoir strain was associated with incident AF, independent of LV mechanics, and with stronger associations in high-risk subgroups. These findings suggest that LA mechanical dysfunction precedes the development of AF. Therapies targeting LA mechanical dysfunction may prevent progression to AF.
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