Sequential measurements of systolic time intervals, left ventricular dimensions, and the derived indices of contractility were undertaken at rest and during isometric exercise in 15 hyperthyroid patients before, during, and after antithyroid treatment. At rest hyperthyroidism was characterised by a shortened pre-ejection period and increased velocity of circumferential shortening of the left ventricle. During isometric exercise, however, the pre-ejection period increased significantly beyond that predicted for normal subjects, and the velocity of circumferential fibre shortening fell by 30%. In contrast, both the pre-ejection period and the velocity of circumferential fibre shortening were unchanged during exercise after a stable euthyroid state had been achieved for at least three months. Comparison between exercise responses and thyroid status during antithyroid treatment showed that a biochemical euthyroid state may be achieved many weeks before normalisation of contractile response to exercise. These findings support the hypothesis of reversible depression of left ventricular function in hyperthyroidism. Responses at rest principally reflect the peripheral actions of thyroid hormone excess.
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