Exercise capacity in patients with left heart failure is closely related to the performance of the right ventricle and the pulmonary circulation. To determine the significance of changes in pulmonary resistance during longterm vasodilator therapy, hemodynamic studies were performed before and after 1 to 3 months of treatment with captopril in 75 patients with severe chronic left heart failure. Patients were grouped according to the relative changes in pulmonary and systemic resistances during long-term therapy: patients in Group I (n = 24) showed greater decreases in pulmonary arteriolar resistance (PAR) than in systemic vascular resistance (SVR) (% Δ PAR/% Δ SVR>1.0), whereas patients in Group II showed predominant systemic vasodilation (% Δ PAR/% Δ SVR 1.0). Despite similar changes in systemic resistance, patients in Group I showed greater increases in cardiac index, stroke volume index and left ventricular stroke work index (p < 0.01 to 0.001) but less dramatic decreases in mean systemic arterial pressure (p < 0.02) than did patients in Group II. Despite similar changes in left ventricular filling pressure, patients in Group I showed greater decreases in mean pulmonary artery and mean right atrial pressures (p < 0.02 to 0.01) than did patients in Group II. Pretreatment variables in Groups I and II were similar, except that plasma renin activity was higher (8.7 ± 2.1 versus 3.0 ± 0.6 ng/ml per h) and serum sodium concentration was lower (133.1 0.9 versus 137.1 < 0.6 mEq/liter) in Group II than in Group I (both p < 0.05). Both groups improved clinically after 1 to 3 months, but symptomatic hypotension occurred more frequently in Group II than in Group 1(30 versus 8%) (p < 0.005). These findings indicate that changes in the pulmonary circulation modulate alterations in both right and left ventricular performance during the treatment of patients with left heart failure. Hyponatremic patients are likely to experience symptomatic hypotension with captopril because they are limited in their ability to increase cardiac output as a result of an inadequate pulmonary vasodilator response to the drug.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine