We have investigated the extent to which shifts of blood volume out of or into the thoracic region influence the steady state cardiac output. The systemic circulation of anesthetized dogs was replaced with an artificial circuit which simulated the pertinent mechanical characteristics of an intact circulation. As in the normal animal, the steady state venous return was proportional to the pressure gradient for venous return (i.e., mean systemic minus right atrial pressure). Cardiac function was altered either by administration of epinephrine or by changes in left ventricular afterload. At a constant mean aortic pressure of 100 mm Hg, epinephrine administration increased the steady state cardiac output by 55%. Half of this increase resulted from the lowered mean right atrial pressure (caused by improved cardiac function); the remainder resulted from an increased mean systemic pressure (caused by the volume shift to the systemic circulation). Increases in afterload transferred sufficient volume to the heart lung compartment to reduce significantly the mean systemic pressure and, hence, the steady state venous return. Our results indicate that the heart lung compartment contains a significant volume which is under cardiac control. In addition to being able to alter the right atrial pressure, the heart can modulate the steady state cardiac output by adjusting the mean systemic pressure. To this degree the heart can adjust its own venous return.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine