Variables derived from left ventricular volume were used to study post-extrasystolic potentiation. Left ventriculograms were obtained from 11 healthy individuals and 49 patients with coronary heart disease (30 with a previous myocardial infarction and 19 without any signs of myocardial damage). Post-extrasystolic potentiation was induced by a regularly driven right atrial rhythm that was interrupted by one atrial extrasystole in such a way that the post-extrasystolic RR interval was kept equal to the basic RR interval. The left ventricular end diastolic volumes of the pre-extrasystolic and post-extrasystolic beats were equal. In all groups there was evidence of post-extrasystolic potentiation in one or more of the indices of left ventricular function (ejection fraction, mean normalised systolic ejection rate, and systolic volume, and stroke volume). Potentiation was especially evident in patients with left ventricular damage; this suggests that a compensating mechanism is an intrinsic property of the myocardium. The Frank-Starling mechanism does not contribute to the increased performance of the post-extrasystolic beat in normal individuals or in patients with coronary artery disease.
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