The effect of alpha adrenergic block-ade on coronary blood flow regulation at rest was studied in 11 normally innervated patients and 8 cardiac allograft recipients by measuring arterial pressure and coronary sinus blood flow by thermodilution before and after alpha adrenergic blockade with phentolamine. Coronary vascular resistance was calculated by using coronary sinus blood flow and mean arterial pressure, and metabolic demand was estimated by the product of systolic arterial pressure and heart rate. In addition, the coronary sinus blood flow response to tachycardia was examined in 9 innervated patients and 12 denervated patients, with measurements repeated after phentolamine in 8 of the 9 innvervated patients and 6 of the 12 denervated patients. There was a 7.3±4.4% increase in coronary sinus blood flow in the innervated patients in response to alpha blockade, whereas the transplanted patients had an 8.2±1.8% fall in coronary sinus blood flow, despite equivalent changes in rate pressure product. The innervated patients also demonstrated a significantly greater increase in coronary sinus blood flow than did the transplanted patients during the first 5 s of an abrupt increase in heart rate (26±4 vs. 8±2.5 ml/min, P <0.001). This early response was blunted after alpha adrenergic blockade. We conclude that there is basal alpha adrenergic tone present on the coronary vasculature in man that is withdrawn by a sudden increase in heart rate.


Arthur E. Orlick, Donald R. Ricci, Edwin L. Alderman, Edward B. Stinson, Donald C. Harrison


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