Relationship of the fourth heart sound to atrial systolic transmitral flow deceleration

Abigail Manson McGuire, Michael T. Hagley, Andrew F. Hall, Sándor J. Kovács

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


The fourth heart sound (S4) is thought to be due to cardiohemic vibrations, powered by deceleration of transmitral blood flow, that occur when atrial systole leads to a disproportionately high rise in ventricular end-diastolic pressure (relative to diastasis), associated with an enhanced atrial systolic blood filling volume or a stiff ventricular wall. To characterize S4 production, we modeled the cardiohemic system as a forced, damped nonlinear harmonic oscillator. The forcing term used a closed-form expression for the Doppler A-wave contour. We simultaneously recorded transthoracic phonocardiograms and Doppler A waves in subjects with and without audible S4 and compared model predictions for S4 amplitude, frequency, and power spectrum with those of the recorded S4. Excellent agreement was observed between the model-predicted amplitude, duration, timing, and power spectrum and those of the phonocardiographic S4. We conclude that, with a normal mitral valve, there should always be an oscillation of the cardiohemic system during A-wave deceleration. However, oscillations may not have high enough amplitude, frequency, or coupling to the chest wall to be clinically audible as an S4.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H1527-H1536
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number3 41-3
StatePublished - Mar 1 1997


  • Doppler echocardiography
  • S4
  • heart sounds
  • mathematical models

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