Purpose of review: Assessment of cardiovascular stability using ventilation-induced changes in measured physiological variables, referred to as functional hemodynamic monitoring, usually requires measurement of ventilation-induced changes in venous return. Thus, it is important to understand the determinants of these complex heart-lung interactions.
Recent findings: Several animal and human studies have recently documented that ventricular interdependence plays an important role during positive-pressure breathing, causing acute cor pulmonale. With the use of lower tidal volume ventilation in patients with acute respiratory failure, the incidence of acute cor pulmonale is decreasing proportionally. When present, however, it induces a stroke volume variation that is 180 degrees out of phase with that seen in hypovolemic states, such that left ventricular stroke volume increases during inspiration rather than decreasing as seen in hypovolemia. Further, when either tidal volume or positive end-expiratory pressure levels are varied, both stroke volume variation and pulse pressure variation are affected in a predictable manner. The greater the swing in intrathoracic pressure, the greater the change in venous return.
Summary: Functional hemodynamic monitoring is becoming more prevalent. For it to be used effectively, the operator needs to have a solid understanding of how ventilation induces both pulse pressure variation and stroke volume variation in that specific patient.