H. E. D. J. TER KEURS & M. I. M. NOBLE The "Starling's Law of
the Heart" and "The Frank-Starling Mechanism" have long been the
cornerstone of cardiac mechanical physiology. It is often forgotten
that Frank and Starling carried out fundamentally different exper
iments. Frankl measured the isovolumic pressure developed by frog
heart at different volumes. He therefore discovered the
pressure-volume-volume rela tionship which depends directly on the
force-length relationship of the 2 sarcomeres. Starling,3 studied
cardiac shortening as manifest by cardiac output and its
relationship to end-diastolic conditions as manifest by right
atrial pressure. Thus he was studying the ability of cardiac muscle
to shorten more at a given load from a greater initial length.
Starling in the promulga 4 tions of his law implied a common
mechanism for these two phenomena and spoke of the "energy
liberated" being a function of initial muscle fiber length.
However, there has been much confusion about the interrelationship
between the two different aspects studied by Frank and Starling.
The 1960s saw the era of isolated cardiac muscle mechanics,
beginning with 5 the paper of Abbott and Mommaerts. Whole muscle
length-tension relations were equated with sarcomere-length-tension
relations by fixation of muscle at a particular point on the curve
and determination of sarcomere length by electronmicroscopy."
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