Effect of reduced aortic compliance on cardiac efficiency and contractile function of in situ canine left ventricle

Kelly, R. P., Tunin, R., Kass, D. A.


This study tests the hypothesis that arterial vascular stiffening adversely influences in situ left ventricular contractile function and energetic efficiency. Ten reflex-blocked anesthetized dogs underwent a bypass operation in which a Dacron graft was sewn to the ascending aorta and connected to the infrarenal abdominal aorta via a plastic conduit. Flow was directed through either native aorta or plastic conduit by placement of vascular clamps. Arterial properties were measured from aortic pressure-flow data, and ventricular function was assessed by pressure-volume (PV) relations. Coronary sinus blood was drained via an extracorporeal circuit for direct measurement of myocardial O2 consumption (MVO2). Data at multiple steady-state preload volumes were combined to derive chamber function and energetics relations. Energetic efficiency was assessed by the inverse slope of the MVO2-PV area relation. Directing flow through plastic versus native aorta resulted in a 60-80% reduction in compliance but little change in mean resistance. Arterial pulse pressure rose from 34 to 99 mm Hg (p less than 0.001). Contractile function assessed by the end-systolic PV relation, stroke work-end-diastolic volume relation, and dP/dtmax at matched end-diastolic volume did not significantly change. However, MVO2 increased by 32% (p less than 0.01) and was matched by a rise in PV area, such that the MVO2-PV area relation and efficiency was unaltered. The MVO2 required to sustain a given stroke volume, however, increased from 20% to 40%, depending on the baseline level (p less than 0.001). Thus, whereas the contractile function and efficiency of normal hearts are not altered by ejection into a stiff vascular system, the energetic cost to the heart for maintaining adequate flow is increased. This suggests a mechanism whereby human vascular stiffening may yield little functional decrement at rest but limit reserve capacity under conditions of increased demand.

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