Background: Variation of the arterial carbon dioxide partial pressure (PaCO2) is not uncommon in anesthetic practice. However, little is known about the myocardial consequences of respiratory alkalosis and acidosis, particularly in patients with coronary artery disease. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effects of variation in PaCO2 on myocardial blood flow (MBF), metabolism, and systemic hemodynamics in patients before elective coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
Methods: In 10 male anesthetized patients, measurements of MBF, myocardial contractility, metabolism, and systemic hemodynamics were made in a randomized sequence at PaCO2 levels of 30, 40, and 50 mmHg, respectively. The MBF was measured using the Kety-Schmidt technique with argon as a tracer. End-diastolic left ventricular pressure and the maximal increase of left ventricular pressure were assessed using a manometer-tipped catheter.
Results: The cardiac index significantly changed with varying PaCO2 levels (hypocapnia, - 9%; hypercapnia, 13%). This reaction was associated with inverse changes in systemic vascular resistance index levels. The MBF significantly increased by 15% during hypercapnia, whereas no change was found during hypocapnia. Myocardial oxygen and glucose uptake and the maximal increase of left ventricular pressure were not affected by varying PaCO2 levels.
Conclusions: In anesthetized patients with coronary artery disease, short-term variations in PaCO2 have significant effects on MBF but do not influence global myocardial oxygen and glucose uptake. Changes in systemic hemodynamics associated with respiratory alkalosis and acidosis are caused by changes in systemic vascular resistance rather than by alterations in myocardial contractility.