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The end-systolic pressure-volume relationship (ESPVR) has been shown to be an afterload-insensitive descriptor of ventricular inotropic state in the isolated heart. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of changes in afterload, heart rate, intravascular volume, autonomic tone, and inotropic state on the ESPVR in conscious dogs. In 30 dogs, left ventricular and pleural pressures were measured with micromanometers, and left ventricular volume was assessed with global ultrasonic crystals. The ESPVR was obtained during vena caval occlusions in each dog during pharmacologic afterload interventions at control and after autonomic blockade. Analysis of variance techniques were used to compare the slopes (Emax) and intercepts (Vd) of ESPVR regression lines in a given study. All estimates of the ESPVR in conscious dogs involved large extrapolations to obtain estimates of Vd. Repeat determinations of Emax at control in the unblocked state were significantly different in six of eight dogs (p less than .05). After autonomic blockade, these differences were significant in only one of eight dogs. Changes in heart rate and volume loading had minimal effects on the ESPVR. In the absence of autonomic blockade, increases in inotropic state with either calcium or dobutamine tended to cause parallel shifts in the ESPVR. After autonomic blockade, Emax increased with augmentation of inotropic state, while Vd was unchanged. ESPVRs obtained at different afterloads showed statistically significant differences in Emax and in Vd in 12 of 14 dogs. However, no statistically significant relationship of Emax to afterload was observed. Thus, the ESPVR is probably valid in conscious dogs, but measurement with an intact cardiovascular system is hampered by statistically significant variability in Emax and Vd with changes in afterload. Baseline variability is magnified by the autonomic nervous system, probably mediated through sympathetic reflexes.


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