Central sleep apnea (CSA) is common among patients with heart failure (HF) and is promoted by elevated CO2 chemosensitivity. Left atrial size is a marker of the hemodynamic severity of HF. The aim of this study was to determine if left atrial size predicts chemosensitivity to CO2 and CSA in patients with HF.
Patients with HF with left ventricular ejection fraction ≤ 35% underwent polysomnography for detection of CSA, echocardiography, and measurement of CO2 chemosensitivity. CSA was defined as an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) ≥ 15/h with ≥ 50% central apneic events. The relation of clinical and echocardiographic parameters to chemosensitivity and CSA were evaluated by linear regression, estimation of ORs, and receiver operator characteristics.
Of 46 subjects without OSA who had complete data for analysis, 25 had CSA. The only parameter that significantly correlated with chemosensitivity was left atrial volume index (LAVI) (r = 0.40, P < .01). LAVI was greater in those with CSA than those without CSA (59.2 mL/m2 vs 36.4 mL/m2, P < .001) and significantly correlated with log-transformed AHI (r = 0.46, P = .001). LAVI was the best predictor of CSA (area under the curve = 0.83). A LAVI ≤ 33 mL/m2 was associated with 22% risk for CSA, while LAVI ≥ 53 mL/m2 was associated with 92% risk for CSA.
Increased LAVI is associated with heightened CO2 chemosensitivity and greater frequency of CSA. LAVI may be useful to guide referral for polysomnography for detection of CSA in patients with HF.