Cardiac performance was evaluated at least two years after doxorubicin treatment in childhood in 55 patients without overt congestive cardiomyopathy. None of the patients had received mediastinal irradiation. Computer-assisted analysis of digitised echocardiograms showed impaired rapid diastolic filling and an increased change of dimension between minimal cavity dimension and mitral valve opening. This impairment of diastolic function was related to the cumulative dose of doxorubicin. In contrast when angiotensin II was infused to increase the afterload the end systolic pressure-length and stress-shortening relation indicated normal left ventricular systolic function. But during baseline conditions the end systolic wall stress was significantly increased in patients in whom the cumulative dose of doxorubicin exceeded 360 mg/m2.
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