Supraventricular tachyarrhythmias frequently complicate myocardial revascularization. Intravenous administration of verapamil has been effective in terminating these arrhythmias. To determine the effects of verapamil on left ventricular systolic function, we implanted ultrasonic dimension transducers in dogs and, after they had recovered from the operation, studied them while they were awake and unsedated. Intravenous administration of verapamil (0.2 mg/kg) resulted in an elevation of cardiac output above baseline because of reflex-induced tachycardia. Contractility, as measured by the load-independent end-systolic pressure-volume relationship, remained unchanged. When the animals were pretreated with atropine and propranolol, verapamil resulted in a fall in cardiac output and contractility. The intact animal responded to the vasodilatory effect of verapamil by releasing catecholamines to maintain cardiac output and hemodynamic stability. Only when this compensatory mechanism was blocked by a β-adrenergic blocker do the inherently negative inotropic and chronotropic effects of verapamil become apparent. The clinical ramifications of this finding are of greater importance to the surgeon as more patients receive β-adrenergic blocking agents up to the time of the immediate preoperative period. We conclude that verapamil should be administered with caution to patients with supraventricular tachyarrhythmias who have been receiving β-adrenergic blocking agents.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine