Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Cardiac output


Background Levosimendan is an inotropic agent that has been shown in small studies to prevent or treat the low cardiac output syndrome after cardiac surgery. Methods In a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial, we evaluated the efficacy and safety of levosimendan in patients with a left ventricular ejection fraction of 35% or less who were undergoing cardiac surgery with the use of cardiopulmonary bypass. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either intravenous levosimendan (at a dose of 0.2 μg per kilogram of body weight per minute for 1 hour, followed by a dose of 0.1 μg per kilogram per minute for 23 hours) or placebo, with the infusion started before surgery. The two primary end points were a four-component composite of death through day 30, renal-replacement therapy through day 30, perioperative myocardial infarction through day 5, or use of a mechanical cardiac assist device through day 5; and a two-component composite of death through day 30 or use of a mechanical cardiac assist device through day 5. Results A total of 882 patients underwent randomization, 849 of whom received levosimendan or placebo and were included in the modified intention-to-treat population. The four-component primary end point occurred in 105 of 428 patients (24.5%) assigned to receive levosimendan and in 103 of 421 (24.5%) assigned to receive placebo (adjusted odds ratio, 1.00; 99% confidence interval [CI], 0.66 to 1.54; P=0.98). The two-component primary end point occurred in 56 patients (13.1%) assigned to receive levosimendan and in 48 (11.4%) assigned to receive placebo (adjusted odds ratio, 1.18; 96% CI, 0.76 to 1.82; P=0.45). The rate of adverse events did not differ significantly between the two groups. Conclusions Prophylactic levosimendan did not result in a rate of the short-term composite end point of death, renal-replacement therapy, perioperative myocardial infarction, or use of a mechanical cardiac assist device that was lower than the rate with placebo among patients with a reduced left ventricular ejection fraction who were undergoing cardiac surgery with the use of cardiopulmonary bypass. (Funded by Tenax Therapeutics; LEVO-CTS number, NCT02025621 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Heart failure, Ejection fraction, Heart, Randomness, Cardiac output


The birth of the intermittent injectate-based conventional pulmonary artery catheter (fondly nicknamed PAC) was proudly announced in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1970 by his parents HJ Swan and William Ganz. PAC grew rapidly, reaching manhood in 1986 where, in the US, he was shown to influence the management of over 40% of all ICU patients. His reputation, however, was tarnished in 1996 when Connors and colleagues suggested that he harmed patients. This was followed by randomized controlled trials demonstrating he was of little use. Furthermore, reports surfaced suggesting that he was unreliable and inaccurate. It also became clear that he was poorly understood and misinterpreted. Pretty soon after that, a posse of rivals (bedside echocardiography, pulse contour technology) moved into the neighborhood and claimed they could assess cardiac output more easily, less invasively and no less reliably. To make matter worse, dynamic assessment of fluid responsiveness (pulse pressure variation, stroke volume variation and leg raising) made a mockery of his ‘wedge’ pressure. While a handful of die-hard followers continued to promote his mission, the last few years of his existence were spent as a castaway until his death in 2013. His cousin (the continuous cardiac output PAC) continues to eke a living mostly in cardiac surgery patients who need central access anyway. This paper reviews the rise and fall of the conventional PAC.

Concepts: Lung, Cardiology, Heart, Randomized controlled trial, Blood pressure, Pulmonary artery, Cardiac output, Stroke volume


BACKGROUND: -Accurate measures are critical when attempting to distinguish normal from pathological changes in cardiac function during exercise, yet imaging modalities have seldom been assessed against invasive exercise standards. We sought to validate a novel method of biventricular volume quantification by cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) during maximal exercise. METHODS AND RESULTS: -CMR was performed on 34 subjects during exercise and free-breathing using an ungated real-time CMR (“RT-ungated”) sequence. ECG and respiratory movements were retrospectively synchronized enabling compensation for cardiac cycle and respiratory phase. Feasibility of RT-ungated imaging was compared with standard exercise CMR imaging with ECG gating (“gated”), Accuracy of RT-ungated CMR was assessed against an invasive standard (direct Fick) and reproducibility was determined following a second bout of maximal exercise. Ventricular volumes were able to be analyzed more frequently during high-intensity exercise using RT-ungated as compared with gated CMR (100% vs. 47%, p<0.0001) and with better inter-observer variability for RT-ungated (coefficient of variation CV=1.9% and 2.0% for left and right ventricular stroke volumes, respectively) than gated (CV=15.2% and 13.6%), p <0.01. Cardiac output determined by RT-ungated CMR proved accurate against the direct Fick method with excellent agreement (intraclass correlation coefficient R=0.96) which was highly reproducible during a second bout of maximal exercise (R=0.98). CONCLUSIONS: -By combining real-time ungated CMR with post-hoc analysis incorporating compensation for respiratory motion, highly reproducible and accurate biventricular volumes can be measured during maximal exercise.

Concepts: Scientific method, Cardiology, Heart, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Magnetic resonance imaging, Cardiac output, Covariance and correlation, Fick principle


For complex patients in the intensive care unit or in the operating room, many questions regarding their haemodynamic management cannot be answered with simple clinical examination. In particular, arterial pressure allows only a rough estimation of cardiac output. Transpulmonary thermodilution is a technique that provides a full haemodynamic assessment through cardiac output and other indices.

Concepts: Blood, Intensive care medicine, Artery, Vein, Cardiac output, Cardiac cycle


In patients with acute circulatory failure, the decision to give fluids or not should not be taken lightly. The risk of overzealous fluid administration has been clearly established. Moreover, volume expansion does not always increase cardiac output as one expects. Thus, after the very initial phase and/or if fluid losses are not obvious, predicting fluid responsiveness should be the first step of fluid strategy. For this purpose, the central venous pressure as well as other “static” markers of preload has been used for decades, but they are not reliable. Robust evidence suggests that this traditional use should be abandoned. Over the last 15 years, a number of dynamic tests have been developed. These tests are based on the principle of inducing short-term changes in cardiac preload, using heart-lung interactions, the passive leg raise or by the infusion of small volumes of fluid, and to observe the resulting effect on cardiac output. Pulse pressure and stroke volume variations were first developed, but they are reliable only under strict conditions. The variations in vena caval diameters share many limitations of pulse pressure variations. The passive leg-raising test is now supported by solid evidence and is more frequently used. More recently, the end-expiratory occlusion test has been described, which is easily performed in ventilated patients. Unlike the traditional fluid challenge, these dynamic tests do not lead to fluid overload. The dynamic tests are complementary, and clinicians should choose between them based on the status of the patient and the cardiac output monitoring technique. Several methods and tests are currently available to identify preload responsiveness. All have some limitations, but they are frequently complementary. Along with elements indicating the risk of fluid administration, they should help clinicians to take the decision to administer fluids or not in a reasoned way.

Concepts: Blood, Cardiology, Heart, Volume, Blood pressure, Thermodynamics, Cardiac output, Mean arterial pressure


Chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy (CCC) develops years after acute infection by Trypanosoma cruzi and does not improve after trypanocidal therapy, despite reduction of parasite burden. During disease, the heart undergoes oxidative stress, a potential causative factor for arrhythmias and contractile dysfunction. Here we tested whether antioxidants/ cardioprotective drugs could improve cardiac function in established Chagas heart disease. We chose a model that resembles B1-B2 stage of human CCC, treated mice with resveratrol and performed electrocardiography and echocardiography studies. Resveratrol reduced the prolonged PR and QTc intervals, increased heart rates and reversed sinus arrhythmia, atrial and atrioventricular conduction disorders; restored a normal left ventricular ejection fraction, improved stroke volume and cardiac output. Resveratrol activated the AMPK-pathway and reduced both ROS production and heart parasite burden, without interfering with vascularization or myocarditis intensity. Resveratrol was even capable of improving heart function of infected mice when treatment was started late after infection, while trypanocidal drug benznidazole failed. We attempted to mimic resveratrol’s actions using metformin (AMPK-activator) or tempol (SOD-mimetic). Metformin and tempol mimicked the beneficial effects of resveratrol on heart function and decreased lipid peroxidation, but did not alter parasite burden. These results indicate that AMPK activation and ROS neutralization are key strategies to induce tolerance to Chagas heart disease. Despite all tissue damage observed in established Chagas heart disease, we found that a physiological dysfunction can still be reversed by treatment with resveratrol, metformin and tempol, resulting in improved heart function and representing a starting point to develop innovative therapies in CCC.

Concepts: Blood, Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Ejection fraction, Heart, Chagas disease, Heart disease, Cardiac output


Non-invasive measures that can accurately estimate cardiac output may help identify volume-responsive patients. This study seeks to compare two non-invasive measures (corrected carotid flow time and carotid blood flow) and their correlations with invasive reference measurements of cardiac output. Consenting adult patients (n = 51) at Massachusetts General Hospital cardiac catheterization laboratory undergoing right heart catheterization between February and April 2016 were included. Carotid ultrasound images were obtained concurrently with cardiac output measurements, obtained by the thermodilution method in the absence of severe tricuspid regurgitation and by the Fick oxygen method otherwise. Corrected carotid flow time was calculated as systole time/√cycle time. Carotid blood flow was calculated as π × (carotid diameter)(2)/4 × velocity time integral × heart rate. Measurements were obtained using a single carotid waveform and an average of three carotid waveforms for both measures.

Concepts: Cardiology, Heart, Coronary catheterization, Medical tests, Tricuspid valve, Cardiac output, Tricuspid insufficiency, Cardiac catheterization


We investigated whether combining the caval index, assessment of the global contractility of the heart and measurement of stroke volume with Noninvasive Cardiac Output Monitoring (NICOM) can aid in fluid management in the emergency department (ED) in patients with sepsis.

Concepts: Blood, Myocardial infarction, Hospital, Cardiology, Heart, Cardiac output, Cardiac cycle, Dublin


Several choices of inotropic therapy are available and used in relation to cardiac surgery. Comparisons are necessary to select optimal therapy. In Denmark, dobutamine and milrinone are the two inotropic agents most commonly used to treat post-bypass low cardiac output syndrome. This study compares all-cause mortality with these drugs.

Concepts: Cohort study, Retrospective, Cardiac output, Inotrope, Inotropic agents


Left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction (LVEF) is a simple measure of global systolic function that pervades the risk evaluation and management of many cardiovascular diseases. However, this parameter is limited not only by technical challenges, but also by pathophysiological entities where the ratio of stroke volume to LV cavity size is preserved. The assessment of global longitudinal strain (GLS) from speckle-tracking analysis of 2-dimensional echocardiography has become a clinically feasible alternative to LVEF for the measurement of myocardial function. Evidence gathered over the last decade has shown GLS to be more sensitive to left ventricular dysfunction (LVD) than LVEF and to provide additional prognostic information. The technology is validated, reproducible within an acceptable range, and widely available. GLS has been proposed as the test of choice in guidelines for monitoring of asymptomatic cardiotoxicity related to chemotherapy. It also has the potential to improve risk stratification, redefine criteria for disease classification, and determine treatment in asymptomatic LVD resulting from a variety of etiologies. GLS provides utility across the spectrum of heart failure (and LVEF) as well as in the evaluation of valvular heart disease. There is a strong case for incorporation of GLS into clinical decision making. This review appraises the evidence addressing the utility of GLS as a complementary metric to LVEF for incorporation into mainstream clinical practice.

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Heart failure, Ejection fraction, Heart, Echocardiography, Decision theory, Cardiac output