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PLoS One. 2016 Nov 18;11(11):e0166463. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0166463. eCollection 2016.

Heart Rate Dependence of the Pulmonary Resistance x Compliance (RC) Time and Impact on Right Ventricular Load.

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Division of Cardiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, United States of America.
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, United States of America.
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States of America.



The effect of heart rate (HR) and body surface area (BSA) on pulmonary RC time and right ventricular (RV) load is unknown.


To determine the association of HR and BSA with the pulmonary RC time and measures of RV load, we studied three large patient cohorts including subjects with 1) known or suspected pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) (n = 1008), 2) pulmonary hypertension due to left heart disease (n = 468), and 3) end-stage heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (n = 150). To corroborate these associations on an individual patient level, we performed an additional analysis using high-fidelity catheters in 22 patients with PAH undergoing right atrial pacing.


A faster HR inversely correlated with RC time (p<0.01 for all), suggesting augmented RV pulsatile loading. Lower BSA directly correlated with RC time (p<0.05) although the magnitude of this effect was smaller than for HR. With incremental atrial pacing, cardiac output increased and total pulmonary resistance (TPR) fell. However, effective arterial elastance, its mean resistive component (TPR/heart period; 0.60±0.27 vs. 0.79±0.45;p = 0.048), and its pulsatile component (0.27±0.18 vs 0.39±0.28;p = 0.03) all increased at faster HR.


Heart rate and BSA are associated with pulmonary RC time. As heart rate increases, the pulsatile and total load on the RV also increase. This relationship supports a hemodynamic mechanism for adverse effects of tachycardia on the RV.

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