Assessment of vasodilator therapy in patients with severe congestive heart failure: Limitations of measurements of left ventricular ejection fraction and volumes

Brian G. Firth, Gregory J. Dehmer, Roy V. Markham, James T. Willerson, L. David Hillis

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26 Scopus citations


Although noninvasive techniques are often used to assess the effect of vasodilator therapy in patients with congestive heart failure, it is unknown whether changes in noninvasively determined left ventricular ejection fraction, volume, or dimension reliably reflect alterations in intracardiac pressure and flow. Accordingly, we compared the acute effect of sodium nitroprusside on left ventricular volume and ejection fraction (determined scintigraphically) with its effect on intracardiac pressure and forward cardiac index (determined by thermodilution) in 12 patients with severe, chronic congestive heart failure and a markedly dilated left ventricle. Nitroprusside (infused at 1.3 ± 1.1 [mean ± standard deviation] μg/kg/min) caused a decrease in mean systemic arterial, mean pulmonary arterial and mean pulmonary capillary wedge pressure as well as a concomitant increase in forward cardiac index. Simultaneously, left ventricular end-diastolic and end-systolic volume indexes decreased, but the scintigraphically determined cardiac index did not change significantly. Left ventricular ejection fraction averaged 0.19 ± 0.05 before nitroprusside administration and increased by less than 0.05 units in response to nitroprusside in 11 of 12 patients. The only significant correlation between scintigraphically and invasively determined variables was that between the percent change in end-diastolic volume index and the percent change in pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (r = 0.68, p = 0.01). Although nitroprusside produced changes in scintigraphically determined left ventricular ejection fraction end-systolic volume index and cardiac index, these alterations bore no predictable relation to changes in intracardiac pressure, forward cardiac index, or vascular resistance. Furthermore, nitroprusside produced a considerably greater percent change in the invasively measured variables than in the scintigraphically determined ones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)954-959
Number of pages6
JournalThe American journal of cardiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1982


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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