Respiratory effort during inspiration, expiration, and the Valsalva manoeuvre changes right ventricular preload and afterload. On inspiration these changes should improve systolic emptying of a larger end diastolic volume and so increase the ejection fraction, whereas on expiration the reverse should be true. The resting right ventricular ejection fraction was measured by first pass radionuclide angiography with gold-195m (half life 30.5 s) in 17 individuals at maximal inspiration and expiration and in eight at rest and during the strain phase (phase 2) of the Valsalva manoeuvre. The right ventricular ejection fraction was significantly lower during expiration than during inspiration. There were, however, no significant differences in bolus duration or right ventricular transit time. The Valsalva manoeuvre, in contrast, significantly increased the ejection fraction and also significantly prolonged both the bolus duration and right ventricular transit time. The conformation of the bolus curves during the Valsalva manoeuvre suggested the development of tricuspid regurgitation. These data suggest that relative influences of venous return, pulmonary arterial pressure, pulmonary vascular resistance, and possible functional tricuspid regurgitation vary during inspiration, expiration, and the Valsalva manoeuvre and can affect the right ventricular ejection fraction. Changes in right ventricular function on exercise assessed by first pass radionuclide angiography must be interpreted with caution because maximal respiratory effort may alter the right ventricular ejection fraction independently of ischaemia or other non-ischaemic factors.
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