Diastolic ventricular interaction in normal and dilated heart during head-up tilting

M Pepi, M Guazzi, A Maltagliati, G Berna, G Tamborini
Clinical Cardiology 2000, 23 (9): 665-72

BACKGROUND: The normal human heart behaves as a single functional unit during preload reduction; adaptations of the left ventricle to head-up tilting is mediated through ventricular interdependence and biventricular-lung interaction.

HYPOTHESIS: We hypothesized that reduction of venous return in dilated cardiomyopathy is likely to have a great effect on ventricular chamber geometry and filling. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of gradual head-up tilting in normal subjects and in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy, addressing special attention to right (RV) and left ventricular (LV) dimensions, geometry, and filling, and to biventricular-lung interaction.

METHODS: Twenty normal subjects and 23 patients with moderate heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy were studied with two-dimensional and Doppler echocardiography in supine position and after 20 degrees, 40 degrees, and 60 degrees tilting. Right ventricular and LV dimensions, LV geometry, and tricuspid, mitral, and pulmonary venous flow patterns were recorded at each step of the study. Geometric changes of the LV were evaluated by measurements of volumes and diameters in the apical four-chamber view (which identifies the interventricular septum and lateral wall) and apical two-chamber view (which identifies the inferior and anterior wall of the LV).

RESULTS: In the two groups, tilting was associated with reduction of RV area and LV diameter and volumes; percent variations in LV diameter and volumes recorded in four-chamber view were lower at each step of tilting than with those derived from the two-chamber view in controls and in patients. In normal subjects, mitral and tricuspid peak early flow velocities were decreased at any tilting level; peak late velocities were unchanged; peak velocity of systolic forward flow of the pulmonary vein was reduced, diastolic forward flow was unchanged, and the difference in duration between reverse pulmonary flow and forward mitral A wave was reduced. Doppler findings were qualitatively similar in patients, but tilting induced a more marked redistribution of LV filling to late diastole because of a significant increase in atrial contribution.

CONCLUSIONS: Preload reduction by tilting induces profound effects on left and right dimensions, geometry, and filling in normal and dilated heart; reduction or RV dimensions are associated with changes in LV ventricular geometry (minimal reduction in septal-lateral diameter, marked reduction in anterior-posterior diameter), redistribution of right and left diastolic filling to late diastole, and redistribution of pulmonary venous flow to early diastole. These mechanisms are probably due to a favorable interaction between heart and lungs, which increases compliance within the pericardial space and facilitates redistribution of flow from the lungs. Even a minimal amount of preload reduction causes more marked effects in LV filling patterns in dilated cardiomyopathy than in normal hearts, confirming that ventricular interaction and pericardial constraint are increased when heart volume enlarges.

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