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Mechanical alternans (MA) is a powerful predictor of adverse prognosis in patients with heart failure and cardiomyopathy, but its use remains limited due to the need of invasive continuous arterial pressure recordings. This study aims to assess novel cardiovascular correlates of MA in the intact human heart to facilitate affordable and non-invasive detection of MA and advance our understanding of the underlying pathophysiology. Arterial pressure, respiration, and ECG were recorded in 12 subjects with healthy ventricles during voluntarily controlled breathing at different respiratory rate, before and after administration of beta-blockers. MA was induced by ventricular pacing. A total of 67 recordings lasting approximately 90 s each were analyzed. Mechanical alternans (MA) was measured in the systolic blood pressure. We studied cardiovascular correlates of MA, including maximum pressure rise during systole (dPdtmax), pulse arrival time (PAT), pulse wave interval (PI), RR interval (RRI), ECG QRS complexes and T-waves. MA was detected in 30% of the analyzed recordings. Beta-blockade significantly reduced MA prevalence (from 50 to 11%, p max (100% sens, 96% spec), PAT (100% sens, 81% spec) and PI (80% sens, 81% spec). Alternans in PAT and in PI also showed high degree of temporal synchronization with MA (80 ± 33 and 73 ± 40%, respectively). These data suggest that cardiac contractility is a primary factor in the establishment of MA. Our findings show that MA was highly correlated with invasive measurements of PAT and PI. Since PAT and PI can be estimated using non-invasive technologies, these markers could potentially enable affordable MA detection for risk-prediction.

Original publication




Journal article


Annals of biomedical engineering

Publication Date





1291 - 1299


Institute of Cardiovascular Science, University College London, London, UK.


Humans, Pulse, Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, Myocardial Contraction, Respiratory Mechanics, Adult, Middle Aged, Female, Male, Heart Failure