The left ventricular Frank-Starling response was studied in 15 preterm infants, less than 1500 g birth weight, and in 16 fullterm infants with patent ductus arteriosus. Left ventricular end diastolic volume (LVEDV), stroke volume, and cardiac output were calculated from biplane echocardiographic images with a modified Simpson's rule, and the left ventricular function curve was obtained by standardising with birth weight and body length. In the relationship between LVEDV and stroke volume, the slope of the regression line was significantly milder in preterm than in fullterm infants; however, there was no significant difference in the relationship between LVEDV and cardiac output. The heart rate was significantly higher in preterm than in fullterm infants. Our data indicated that the premature infants had less left ventricular reserve capacity to respond to the increased preload through the left-to-right ductal shunting than the mature ones, and that the high pulse rate made it possible to generate adequate cardiac output in premature infants.
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