Strain-based discoordination imaging during exercise in heart failure with reduced ejection fraction: Feasibility and reproducibility

Louis S. Fixsen (Corresponding author), Philippe C. Wouters, Richard G.P. Lopata, Hareld M.C. Kemps

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PURPOSE: Various parameters of mechanical dyssynchrony have been proposed to improve patient selection criteria for cardiac resynchronization therapy, but sensitivity and specificity are lacking. However, echocardiographic parameters are consistently investigated at rest, whereas heart failure (HF) symptoms predominately manifest during submaximal exertion. Although strain-based predictors of response are promising, feasibility and reproducibility during exercise has yet to be demonstrated.

METHODS: Speckle-tracking echocardiography was performed in patients with HF at two separate visits. Echocardiography was performed at rest, during various exercise intensity levels, and during recovery from exercise. Systolic rebound stretch of the septum (SRSsept), systolic shortening, and septal discoordination index (SDI) were calculated.

RESULTS: Echocardiography was feasible in about 70-80% of all examinations performed during exercise. Of these acquired views, 84% of the cine-loops were suitable for analysis of strain-based mechanical dyssynchrony. Test-retest variability and intra- and inter-operator reproducibility at 30% and 60% of the ventilatory threshold (VT) were about 2.5%. SDI improved in the majority of patients at 30% and 60% of the VT, with moderate to good agreement between both intensity levels.

CONCLUSION: Although various challenges remain, exercise echocardiography with strain analysis appears to be feasible in the majority of patients with dyssynchronous heart failure. Inter- and intra-observer agreement of SRSsept and SDI up to 60% of the VT were comparable to resting values. During exercise, the extent of SDI was variable, suggesting a heterogeneous response to exercise. Further research is warranted to establish its clinical significance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Cardiovascular Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2022


FundersFunder number
European Union's Horizon 2020 - Research and Innovation Framework Programme642612


    • Cardiac resynchronization therapy
    • Echocardiography
    • Exercise
    • Feasibility
    • Heart failure
    • Systolic rebound stretch


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