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Revista médica de Chile

Print version ISSN 0034-9887


DOMENECH, Raúl J  and  PARRA, Víctor M. Ventricular contractility: Physiology and clinical projection. Rev. méd. Chile [online]. 2016, vol.144, n.6, pp.767-771. ISSN 0034-9887.

The contractile state of the heart is the result of myocardial contractility, the intrinsic mechanism that regulates the force and the shortening of the ventricle and determines the ventricular ejection volume. However, the ejection volume is also modulated by ventricular preload (diastolic ventricular volume) and afterload (resistance to ejection). Accordingly, a decrease in contractility may be masked by changes in preload or afterload, maintaining a normal ejection volume and delaying the diagnosis of myocardial damage. Thus, it is necessary to develop a non-invasive method to measure contractility in the clinical practice. We review in this article the basic principles of cardiac contraction, the concept of contractility and its measurement with the ventricular pressure-volume loop, an experimental method that also measures most of the hemodynamic variables of the cardiac cycle including preload, afterload, ventricular work, ventricular lusitropy and arterial elastance. This method has been recently validated in cardiac patients and allows to evaluate the evolution of contractility in heart failure in a non invasive way. Although some modifications are still necessary, it will probably have an extensive use in practical cardiology in the near future.

Keywords : Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena; Cardiovascular System; Myocardial Contraction; Physiology.

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