Alternating contractility in pulsus alternans studied in the isolated canine heart

M. D. McGaughey, W. L. Maughan, K. Sunagawa, K. Sagawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


We examined pulsus alternans in seven isolated, perfused canine left ventricles ejecting into a simulated arterial impedance. Left ventricular pressure-volume loops were measured during pulsus alternans while filling-source pressure was lowered. In all cases two distinct linear end-systolic pressure-volume relationships (ESPVRs) were noted for the strong and weak beats. The slopes of the ESPVRs of the strong beats were significantly greater than those of the weak beats (mean difference 0.9 ± 0.6 mm Hg/ml, p < .01), while the intercepts were not significantly different (mean difference 0.06 ± 0.5 ml). Diastolic pressure-volume relationships for the strong and weak beats were not significantly different, excluding incomplete relaxation as a cause of pulsus alternans. Although the weak beats had both a smaller preceding end-diastolic volume and a larger end-systolic volume, the presence of two distinct ESPVRS for the strong and weak beats shows there is alternating ventricular chamber contractility in pulsus alternans that is not solely due to the Starling mechanism. The magnitude of alternation in pump function parameters such as pressure and stroke volume during pulsus alternans reflects the complex interactions of alternating contractile state with alternations in preload and afterload.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-362
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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