Effect of digoxin and diuretics on high altitude left ventricular dysfunction.
Systolic time intervals, stroke volume, cardiac output and (dZ/dt)/RZ index were serially estimated in 51 normal healthy volunteers at sea level, for ten days after air induction to 3658 m altitude and on return to sea level. The subjects were divided into three groups and were administered a diuretic, beta methyldigoxin and placebo in a double blind protocol. The group on placebo showed an increase in heart rate, reduction in stroke index and cardiac index during high altitude exposure with normalization on return to sea level. A deterioration in left ventricular function as manifested by prolongation of pre-ejection period, increase in PEP/LVET ratio, reduction in (dZ/dt)/RZ index and left ventricular ejection time was also noted at high altitude. The subjects on digoxin maintained normal stroke/cardiac index and did not show any significant changes in the parameters of myocardial function. The diuretic group showed more deterioration in the parameters than the placebo group. No significant side effects were noted. Left ventricular dysfunction and reduction of stroke index at high altitudes may be causually related; digoxin administration may prevent them from occurring.
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