Methods: Forty-two patients with severe AS referred to heart valve clinic were studied using tagged CMR imaging. All had preserved LVEF. Patients were grouped by symptoms as either “none/mild” (n=21, NYHA class I, II) or “significant” (n=21, NYHA class III, IV, angina, syncope) but were comparable for age (72.8±5.4 vs. 71.0±6.8 years old, P=0.345), surgical risk (EuroSCORE II: 1.90±1.7 vs. 1.31±0.4, P=0.302) and haemodynamics (peak aortic gradient: 55.1±20.8 vs. 50.4±15.6, P=0.450). Thirteen controls matched in age and LVEF were also studied. LV circumferential strain was calculated using inTag© software and longitudinal strain using feature tracking analysis.
Results: Compared to healthy controls, patients with severe AS had significantly worse longitudinal and circumferential strain, regardless of symptom status. Patients with “significant” symptoms had significantly worse peak longitudinal systolic strain rates (−83.352±24.802%/s vs. −106.301±43.276%/s, P=0.048) than those with “no/mild” symptoms, with comparable peak longitudinal strain (PLS), peak circumferential strain and systolic and diastolic strain rates.
Conclusions: Patients with severe AS who have no or only mild symptoms exhibit comparable reduction in circumferential and longitudinal fibre function to those with significant symptoms, in whom AVR is clearly indicated. Given these findings of equivalent subclinical dysfunction, reportedly borderline symptoms should be handled cautiously to avoid potentially adverse delays in intervention.