Effects of heart rate on ventricular size, stroke volume, and output in the normal human fetus: a prospective Doppler echocardiographic study.
The effect of heart rate on cardiac output in the fetal heart is controversial. We used Doppler echocardiography to investigate the effects of increasing heart rate on stroke volume and ventricular output in the normal human fetal heart. Heart rate was increased in 25 human fetuses (mean age 36 weeks) by auditory stimulation with a sound emitter placed on the mother's abdomen. Aortic or pulmonary diameters were measured at valve level from two-dimensional echocardiographic images and cross-sectional areas were calculated. Blood flow velocity spectra from the pulmonary artery or aorta were digitized to obtain flow velocity integrals before and after auditory stimulation. Stroke volume was calculated as the product of the flow velocity integral and the area of the great vessel. Prestimulation mean heart rate was 132 +/- 8 beats/min and increased after auditory stimulation to 158 +/- 9 beats/min (p less than .001). Stroke volume decreased with the increase in heart rate from 3.7 +/- 1.4 ml before stimulation to 3.0 +/- 1.1 ml after stimulation (p less than .001), but ventricular output calculated as the product of stroke volume and heart rate remained unchanged (0.48 +/- 0.18 liter/min before vs 0.48 +/- 0.17 liter/min after stimulation). The decrease in stroke volume was accompanied by a decrease in ventricular end-diastolic area, although there was no change either in end-systolic area or fractional change in area. This study demonstrates that increases in heart rate within the physiologic range in the normal human fetus result in a decrease in ventricular size and stroke volume but no change in ventricular output or ventricular shortening.
- Copyright © 1987 by American Heart Association