The mechanisms leading to formation of spontaneous echo contrast (SEC), a smoke-like echo on echocardiography, are still controversial. To further explore the clinical implications and factors related to SEC formation, the correlation among echocardiographic variables, hematologic parameters or platelet aggregability, and the occurrence of SEC was studied in 119 patients with chronic nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. There were 75 men and 44 women with a mean age of 65 ± 10 years (range 38-88). Left atrial SEC was detected in 39 patients (33%) by transesophageal echocardiography. Patients with history of systemic embolism were more frequently found to have left atrial SEC and left atrial thrombus by univariate analysis. Multivariate analysis showed that left atrial SEC (p <0.001) was the only independent predictor of history of systemic embolism. Age, sex, left atrial or left ventricular dimension, left ventricular ejection fraction, antiplatelet or anticoagulant therapy and the percentage of lone atrial fibrillation were not significantly different between patients with and without left atrial SEC. Among the hematologic parameters, higher hematocrit was found in patients with left atrial SEC, while white blood cell and platelet counts were comparable in both groups. Platelet aggregability with different concentrations of inducers, adenosine diphosphate and collagen, was evaluated by the turbidimetric method in 15 patients with left atrial SEC and in 42 patients without left atrial SEC who were not receiving antiplatelet or anticoagulant therapy. No significant difference was found in platelet aggregability using four inducer concentrations between two groups of patients. It is therefore concluded that SEC formation is related to the hematocrit level in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, and the results also support the hypothesis that left atrial SEC comes from erythrocyte aggregation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas