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Am J Physiol. 1976 Jul;231(1):204-8.

Distribution of fetal cardiac output: importance of pacemaker location.


Important questions exist about the relative roles of changes in heart rate versus extent of myocardial shortening in regulating fetal cardiac output, because increases in heart rate created by left atrial pacing have been shown to increase right ventricular output and decrease left ventricular output. Since the pacemaker site could importantly influence foramen ovale flow and, hence, each ventricle's output, changes in individual ventricular outputs were examined when both the right and left atria were paced at a rate of 270 beats/min in five acute and in eight chronically instrumented fetal lamb studies. With pacing of either atrium, total cardiac output was unchanged compared to control values. However, the right ventricle contributed more to total cardiac output with left atrial pacing (73% acute, 65% chronic) than with right atrial pacing (51% acute, 57% chronic). Converse changes were observed in left atrial pacing (27% acute, 35% chronic) as compared to right atrial pacing (49% acute, 43% chronic). Thus the disparity that exists normally in the contributions of the right and left ventricles to total cardiac output is accentuated with left atrial pacing and minimized with right atrial pacing. Pressure measurements demonstrated changes in the atrial pressure relations that would be expected to alter flow across the foramen ovale depending on the chamber initially activated. Previous experimental differences can, therefore, be attributed to changes in the magnitude of shunting across the foramen ovale and depend on pacemaker location.

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