The Systolic Index: A Noninvasive Approach for the Assessment of Cardiac Function: Implications for Patients with DDD and CRT Devices


  • Disclosures: R. Chirife, M.D.: Licensor, Boston Scientific, Medico SpA, Medtronic, and Saint Jude Medical. C. Muratore, M.D.: Consultant, Medtronic. M.C. Tentori, M.D.: Consultant, Medtronic. Other authors: no disclosures.

  • This study was funded in part by R. Chirife, M.D., Medtronic Inc, MN, USA and Exxer IE, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Address for reprints: R. Chirife, M.D., Department of Cardiology, Hospital Fernandez, Cerviño y Bulnes, 1115 Buenos Aires, Argentina. Fax: 54-11-4798-8009; e-mail:



Our objective was to evaluate the systolic index (SI), the ratio between rate-corrected left ventricular ejection time (LVETc), and a preejection period surrogate (PEPsu), to assess cardiac function in patients with DDD and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) pacemakers.


LVETc and PEPsu were automatically measured from electrocardiogram and finger photoplethismography. Atrioventricular (AV) and mode switch (CRT to DDD) were used as hemodynamic challenges. Performance of SI, beat-by-beat systolic blood pressure (SBP), and Doppler aortic velocity/time integral (AoVTI) were compared in 36 patients, and SI's detection of CRT to DDD mode switch in nine patients, responders to CRT. AVs were changed from 30 ms to 250 ms (20 ms steps) at constant paced heart rate, alternating with a reference AV (RefAV), to reduce hemodynamic drift. The coefficient of variation (standard deviation/mean) of SI, SBP, and AoVTI during all RefAVs were used as error marker. The percentage detection of hemodynamic changes during AV transitions was a marker of sensitivity.


Fifty-five patients (males 62%, age 69.6 ± 17) were studied. SI detected 441 of 544 transitions (81%) versus 361 (66%) of SBP (P = 0.005). Error during RefAVs was smaller for SI (3.4%) as compared to AoVTI (7.8%, P = 0.015) and to SBP (5.7%, P = 0.005). SIs correlated with AoVTI (R from 0.71 to 0.98, all P < 0.001). SI detected all CRT to DDD changes (P < 0.001).


The noninvasive SI obtained with a simple, observer-independent hemodynamic assessment procedure has higher accuracy than SBP and AoVTI and better sensitivity than SBP. It detects mechanical resynchronization in CRT and allows programming a suitable AV delay.