Effect of acute exercise on the raised plasma fibrinogen, soluble P-selectin and von Willebrand factor levels in chronic atrial fibrillation

Foo Li Saw Hee, Andrew Blann, Eiry Edmunds, CR Gibbs, Gregory Lip

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BACKGROUND: There is increasing evidence that chronic atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with a prothrombotic or hypercoagulable state. HYPOTHESIS: This study was undertaken to determine whether short-term exercise in patients with chronic AF would shift the overall hemostatic balance toward a more prothrombotic state with a reduction in fibrinolytic potential. METHODS: We recruited 20 patients (13 men; mean age 65 years +/- 11 standard deviation [SD]) with chronic AF who were not treated with antithrombotic therapy and exercised them to exhaustion using a multistage treadmill exercise (standard Bruce) protocol. Blood samples were taken pre exercise, immediately after cessation of exercise, and at 20 min post exercise. The prothrombotic state was quantified by fibrinogen (an index of hemorheology and a coagulation factor), soluble P-selectin (sP-sel, marking platelet activation), von Willebrand factor (vWF, an index of endothelial dysfunction), and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1, a regulator of fibrinolytic activity) levels. There were two groups of age- and gender-matched controls in sinus rhythm: (1) healthy controls, and (2) "hospital controls" who were patients with vascular disease. RESULTS: Baseline levels of vWf (p = 0.034) and fibrinogen (p <0.0001), but not sP-sel (p = 0.075) were significantly elevated in patients with AF compared with both control groups in sinus rhythm. The PAI-1 levels were highest in the hospital control patients, but not in chronic AF (p = 0.041). Following treadmill exercise, achieving a mean metabolic equivalent of 4.9 METS (+/- 1.75 SD) and total exercise duration of 4.9 min (+/- 2 SD), there was a significant rise in plasma fibrinogen (repeated measures analysis of variance [ANOVA] p = 0.047) and a reduction in PAI-1 levels (p = 0.025) in patients with AF. There were no significant changes seen in vWf (p = 0.308) or sP-sel (p = 0.071) levels. No significant changes in these indices were seen in hospital controls (all p = not significant), despite a much longer duration of exercise with greater workload. CONCLUSION: Patients with chronic AF have increased vWf and fibrinogen levels compared with sinus rhythm. Exercise to exhaustion influences the hypercoagulable state in chronic AF, with a rise in plasma fibrinogen and possible increase in fibrinolytic activity. Nevertheless, acute exercise does not appear to have a significant influence on endothelial dysfunction or platelet activation in patients with AF.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-14
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Cardiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2001


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