The hemodynamic determinants of the time course of fall in isovolumic left ventricular pressure were assessed in isolated canine left ventricular preparations. Pressure fall was studied in isovolumic beats or during prolonged isovolumic diastole after ejection. Pressure fall from the time of maximum negative dP/dt was found to be exponential during isovolumic relaxation for isovolumic and ejecting beats (r ≥0.98) and was therefore characterized by a time constant, T. Higher heart rates shortened T slightly from 52.6±4.5 ms at 110/min to 48.2±6.0 ms at 160/min (P<0.01, n=8). Higher ventricular volumes under isovolumic conditions resulted in higher peak left ventricular pressure but no significant change in T. T did shorten from 67.1±5.0 ms in isovolumic beats to 45.8±2.9 ms in the ejecting beats (P<0.001, n=14). In the ejecting beats, peak systolic pressure was lower, and end systolic volume smaller. To differentiate the effects of systolic shortening during ejection from those of lower systolic pressure and smaller end systolic volume, beats with large end diastolic volumes were compared to beats with smaller end diastolic volumes. The beats with smaller end diastolic volumes exhibited less shortening but similar end systolic volumes and peak systolic pressure. T again shortened to a greater extent in the beats with greater systolic shortening. Calcium chloride and acetylstrophanthidin resulted in no significant change in T, but norepinephrine, which accelerates active relaxation, resulted in a significant shortening of T (65.6±13.4 vs. 46.3±7.0 ms, P<0.02). During recovery from ischemia, T increased significantly from 59.0±9.6 to 76.8±13.1 ms when compared with the preischemic control beat (P<0.05). Thus, the present studies show that the time course of isovolumic pressure fall subsequent to maximum negative dP/dt is exponential, independent of systolic stress and end systolic fiber length, and minimally dependent on heart rate. T may be an index of the activity of the active cardiac relaxing system and appears dependent on systolic fiber shortening.
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