Noninvasive evaluation of left ventricular afterload: part 2: arterial pressure-flow and pressure-volume relations in humans

Hypertension. 2010 Oct;56(4):563-70. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.110.157339. Epub 2010 Aug 23.


The mechanical load imposed by the systemic circulation to the left ventricle is an important determinant of normal and abnormal cardiovascular function. Left ventricular afterload is determined by complex time-varying phenomena, which affect pressure and flow patterns generated by the pumping ventricle. Left ventricular afterload is best described in terms of pressure-flow relations, allowing for quantification of various components of load using simplified biomechanical models of the circulation, with great potential for mechanistic understanding of the role of central hemodynamics in cardiovascular disease and the effects of therapeutic interventions. In the second part of this tutorial, we review analytic methods used to characterize left ventricular afterload, including analyses of central arterial pressure-flow relations and windkessel modeling (pressure-volume relations). Conceptual descriptions of various models and methods are emphasized over mathematical ones. Our review is aimed at helping researchers and clinicians obtain and interpret results from analyses of left ventricular afterload in clinical and epidemiological settings.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Arteries / physiology*
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Heart / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Myocardial Contraction / physiology*
  • Vascular Resistance / physiology
  • Ventricular Function, Left / physiology*