Objectives: Viscous and inertial components contribute to arterial distensibility and compliance in vitro. The purpose of our study was to determine whether this phenomenon is of relevance in vivo, namely, whether arterial compliance is altered by an increase in heart rate
Design: Arterial diameter was assessed by an echo-Doppler device in a common carotid and femoral artery, namely, in a large elastic and a muscle artery. The studies were performed in 12-week-old pentobarbitone-anaesthetized Wistar-Kyoto rats subjected to atrial pacing via a transjugular unipolar catheter at five different randomly sequenced rates (280, 310, 340, 370 and 400 beats/min). After each stage, spontaneous sinus rhythm was allowed to return. Blood pressure was measured via a catheter inserted into the carotid or femoral artery contralateral to the vessels in which the diameter was measured. Arterial compliance and distensibility values were derived according to the Langewouters formula
Results: A progressive increase in heart rate caused by pacing was accompanied by progressive and marked reductions in carotid artery compliance and distensibility. When quantified by the area under the distensibilitypressure or compliance-pressure curve the reduction was in the range 15-43%. Although a tendency to a similar phenomenon was observed in the femoral artery, in the latter vessel the reduction in distensibility and compliance was less marked and statistically insignificant
Conclusions: In the anaesthetized rat acute increases in heart rate are accompanied by reductions in arterial compliance and distensibility. The effect is greater in elastic than in muscle arteries
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