The effects of exercise and beta adrenoceptor blockade on left ventricular function were assessed in eight patients with hypothyroidism before and during thyroxine replacement treatment. Left ventricular ejection fraction, measured by radionuclide ventriculography, was reduced in hypothyroid patients at rest and on exercise. The rise in ejection fraction with exercise was, however, similar in both groups. Pretreatment with intravenous propranolol reduced the ejection fraction at rest 9% in both hypothyroid and euthyroid patients and reduced the rise on exercise. Directional changes in a second index of myocardial contractility based on the shape of the ventricular volume curve paralleled the changes in the ejection fraction. Left ventricular function is therefore reversibly depressed by thyroid hormone deficiency but responses to exercise and beta adrenoceptor blockade are normal. There is no evidence of altered adrenergic sensitivity in the control of myocardial contractility in hypothyroidism.
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