Bolus intravenous nitroglycerin predominantly reduces afterload in patients with excessive arterial elastance

Howard L. Haber, Christopher L. Simek, James D. Bergin, Alberto Sadun, Lawrence W. Gimple, Eric R. Powers, Marc D. Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Objectives. We hypothesized that bolus intravenous nitroglycerin would be an afterload-reducing agent in patients with excessive initial afterload for their level of left ventricular systolic function. Conversely, bolus intravenous nitroglycerin should be a preload-reducing in patients without excessive initial afterload. Background. Although nitroglycerin has both preload- and afterload-reducing actions, methods to predict its predominant site of action in an individual patient have not been previously described. Methods. Left ventricular pressure-volume relations were recorded with micromanometer and conductance catheters during bolus injection of intravenous nitroglycerin in 27 patients with both normal left ventricular systolic function and varying degrees of congestive heart failure. Preload was determined by end-diastolic volume, afterload by effective arterial elastance, left ventricular systolic function by end-systolic elastance and coupling of afterload and ventricular function by the ratio of effective arterial elastance to end-systolic elastance ( Ea Ees ratio). An Ea Ees ratio >1 was defined as excessive afterload for the level of ventricular function. Results. Patients with an initial Ea Ees ratio <1 (Grouup 1) constituted a group of normotensive patients with intact ventricular function who exhibited a perdominant reduction im preload in response to intravenous nitroglycerin. Those with an initial Ea Ees ratio >1 and normal or mildly depressed ventricular function (Group 2a) constitude a group of patients, most of whom were hypertensive, who exhibited a predominant afterload reduction. Finally, those with an initial Ea Ees ratio >1 and abnormal ventricular function (Group 2b) constituted a group of patients with clinical congestive failure who exhibited both preload and afterload reduction but a predominant afterload reduction because stroke volume increased. Conclusions. Patients with normal arterial elastance and ventricular function respond to nitroglycerin with a predominant preload reduction, whereas patients with either excessive arterial elastance or abnormal ventricular function respond with a predominant afterload reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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