Myocardial substrate extraction, coronary sinus flow, cardiac output, and left ventricular pressure were measured at increasing pacing rates before and after propranolol (0.2 mg/kg) in 13 patients with hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM) during diagnostic cardiac catheterisation. At the lowest pacing rate myocardial oxygen consumption varied considerably between patients and very high values were found in several individuals (range 10.1 to 57.5 ml/min). These large differences between patients were not explicable by differences in cardiac work; consequently, cardiac efficiency, estimated from the oxygen cost of external work, varied between patients and was lower than normal in all but two. The pattern of substrate extraction at the lowest pacing rate was similar to results reported for the normal heart, and measured oxygen consumption could be accounted for by complete oxidation of the substrates extracted; thus there was no evidence of a gross abnormality of oxidative metabolism, suggesting that low efficiency lay in the utilisation rather than in the production of energy. Each of the four patients with the highest myocardial oxygen consumption and lowest values of efficiency sustained progressive reductions in lactate and pyruvate extraction as heart rate increased, and at the highest pacing rate had low (< 3%) or negative lactate extraction ratios. In three of these four, coronary sinus flow did not increase progressively with each increment in heart rate. One patient with low oxygen consumption and normal efficiency also failed to increase coronary flow with the final increment in heart rate, and produced lactate at the highest pacing rate. Thus the five patients in whom pacing provoked biochemical evidence of ischaemia all had excessive myocardial oxygen demand and/or limited capacity to increase coronary flow. Propranolol did not change lactate extraction significantly at any pacing rate in either the ischaemic or non-ischaemic groups. In only one patient was ischaemia at the highest pacing rate abolished after propranolol, and this was associated with a 30 per cent reduction in oxygen consumption. These results do not demonstrate a direct effect of propranolol upon myocardial metabolism in patients with HOCM, but emphasise the potential value of beta-blockade in protecting these patients from excessive increases in heart rate.
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