Left atrial remodelling contributes to the progression of asymptomatic left ventricular systolic dysfunction to chronic symptomatic heart failure
Systolic heart failure (HF) is a progressive disorder that often begins with asymptomatic left ventricular (LV) systolic dysfunction and culminates in symptoms from fluid overload and poor end-organ perfusion. The progression to symptomatic HF is accompanied by marked activation of neurohormonal and cytokine systems, as well as a series of adaptive LV anatomical and functional changes, collectively referred to as LV remodelling. However, the mechanisms underlying symptom appearance have not been delineated and the weight of experimental and clinical evidence suggests that the development of symptomatic HF occurs independently of the haemodynamic status of the patient. The left atrium is a muscular chamber strategically located between the left ventricle and the pulmonary circulation with important mechanical function (modulation of LV filling), which is closely coupled with its endocrine (atrial natriuretic peptide synthesis and secretion) and regulatory (contribution to the control of sympathetic activity and vasopressin release) functions. In this narrative review we provide evidence supporting the concept that left atrial dilation and systolic dysfunction (left atrial remodelling) contributes to the progression of asymptomatic LV dysfunction to chronic symptomatic systolic HF as it is a prerequisite for the development of the pulmonary congestion and marked neuronhormoral activity that characterize the symptomatic state.