Alterations in diaphragm strength and fatiguability in congestive heart failure

G. Supinski, A. DiMarco, M. Dibner-Dunlap

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49 Scopus citations


Recent reports suggested that exercise intolerance associated with congestive heart failure (CHF) may be due to changes in peripheral limb muscle function. Our purpose was to determine whether CHF also elicits alterations in diaphragmatic function. CHF was induced in dogs by rapid ventricular pacing for a period of 4-6 wk. After signs of CHF developed, dogs were anesthetized and an acute study was performed to assess diaphragm function. Diaphragm strips were dissected in situ in the left costal diaphragm, the phrenic artery supplying these strips was cannulated, and strips were perfused with arterial blood at arteriovenous pressure gradient of 90 mmHg. Diaphragm strength and fatiguability were then determined, and phrenic flow response to transient arterial occlusion was assessed. A group of nonpaced normal dogs was similarly studied and served as controls. We found that CHF dogs had a significant reduction in diaphragm strength. For example, tetanic force in response to 100 Hz of stimulation was 25.5 ± 1.0 N/cm2 in control dogs but only 19.6 ± 1.9 kg/cm2 in CHF dogs (P < 0.02). In addition, CHF dogs had increased diaphragm fatiguability. Diaphragm force fell to 27 ± 3% of its baseline value during a 30-min fatigue trial in CHF dogs but only to 44 ± 4% in control dogs (P < 0.01). CHF dogs also had a altered phrenic arterial hyperemic response to arterial occlusion and a reduction in phrenic arterial blood flow achieved during the fatigue trial. We conclude that development of CHF is associated with significant alterations in diaphragmatic function, causing a marked increase in fatiguability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2707-2713
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1994


  • muscle blood flow
  • respiratory muscles
  • skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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