Effect of nitroglycerin on the pulmonary venous gradient in patients after mitral valve replacement

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Because the equality of the pulmonary artery wedge pressure and left atrial pressure has been questioned in patients with mitral valve disease and pulmonary hypertension, this study examined how vasomotor activity in the pulmonary capacitance vessels might contribute to a discrepancy between these pressures. The difference between the pulmonary wedge and left atrial pressures (designated as the pulmonary venous gradient) was measured after nitroglycerin administration in nine patients who had pulmonary hypertension (mean pulmonary artery pressure 40 mm Hg) after mitral valve replacement. Five minutes after sublingual nitroglycerin, 0.4 mg, the mean pulmonary wedge pressure decreased from 19 ± 2 to 13 ± 2 mm Hg (p < 0.005), exceeding the decrease in left atrial pressure (15 ± 2 to 11 ± 2 mm Hg; p < 0.005). Pulmonary blood flow increased from 4.6 ± 0.4 to 4.9 ± 0.4 liters/min (p < 0.005). The decrease in mean pulmonary venous gradient from 4.0 ± 0.8 to 1.7 ± 0.6 mm Hg (p < 0.025) was attributed to nitrate-mediated pulmonary venodilation. The ratio of venous gradient to blood flow, an index of pulmonary venous tone, decreased after nitroglycerin from 0.9 ± 0.2 to 0.4 ± 0.1 (p < 0.01). These data indicate that reversible pulmonary vasoconstriction contributes to elevation of the pulmonary wedge pressure above the left atrial pressure in patients with chronic mitral valve disease and pulmonary hypertension and that nitroglycerin may produce pulmonary venodilation decreasing the pulmonary venous gradient. © 1985, American College of Cardiology Foundation. All rights reserved.




Halperin, J. L., Brooks, K. M., Rothlauf, E. B., Mindich, B. P., Ambrose, J. A., & Teichholz, L. E. (1985). Effect of nitroglycerin on the pulmonary venous gradient in patients after mitral valve replacement. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 5(1), 34–39. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0735-1097(85)80082-6

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