Background: Ventricular function has conventionally been characterized using indexes of systolic (contractile) or diastolic (relaxation/stiffness) function. Systolic indexes include maximum elastance or equivalently the end-systolic pressure volume relation and left ventricular ejection fraction. Diastolic indexes include the time constant of isovolumic relaxation - and the end-diastolic pressure-volume relation. Conceptualization of ventricular contraction/relaxation coupling presents a challenge when mechanical events of the cardiac cycle are depicted in conventional pressure, P, or volume, V, terms. Additional conceptual difficulty arises when ventricular/vascular coupling is considered using P, V variables. Methods: We introduce the concept of thermodynamic phase-plane, TPP, defined by the PdV and VdP axes. Results: TPP allows all cardiac mechanical events and their coupling to the vasculature to be geometrically depicted and simultaneously analyzed. Conclusion: Conventional systolic and diastolic function indexes are easily recovered and novel indexes of contraction-relaxation coupling are discernible.
- Contraction/relaxation coupling
- Diastolic function
- Pressure-volume loops
- Ventricular function