Improvement of the age-related impairment in left ventricular diastolic filling with verapamil in the normal human heart

James A. Arrighi*, Vasken Dilsizian, Pasquale Perrone-Filardi, Jean G. Diodati, Stephen L. Bacharach, Robert O. Bonow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Background: Left ventricular (LV) diastolic function declines with the normal aging process. Because these changes are related to impaired active LV relaxation as well as to structural alterations, we hypothesized that verapamil might improve LV filling in elderly normal subjects compared with young normal subjects. Methods and Results: We studied 27 normal volunteers (between 20 and 71 years old), with normal exercise tests and echocardiograms, by radionuclide angiography before and after 3 to 4 days of oral verapamil therapy. Indexes of global LV function were derived from analysis of background-corrected time-activity curves. Subjects were recruited from three age groups: young (26±4 years, n=10), middle-aged (46±5 years, n=9), and elderly (66±3 years, n=8). Baseline resting heart rate, blood pressure, peak systolic wall stress, and LV ejection fraction did not differ among groups. Baseline peak LV filling rate (expressed in fractional stroke volume per second) was reduced in the middle-aged group (5.8±1.2, P<.01) and the elderly group (4.3±1.0, P<.01) compared with the young group (7.8±1.2). With verapamil, resting heart rate, peak systolic wall stress, LV ejection fraction, and peak ejection rate did not change in any group. Peak filling rate increased in the middle-aged group (to 6.8±1.5 SV/s, P<.01) and the elderly group (to 5.7±1.0 SV/s, P<.01) but did not change in the young group (8.0±1.4 SV/s). Also, time to peak filling rate decreased with verapamil in the elderly group (from 185±31 to 147±15 milliseconds, P<.01). The magnitude of change in filling rate was correlated positively with age (r=.55, P<.005). Conclusion: Verapamil selectively enhances LV diastolic filling in middle-aged and elderly subjects, compared with young adults, without affecting systolic function. This observation supports the hypothesis that the impairment of LV filling accompanying the normal aging process is, at least in part, a reversible phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-219
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1994


  • aging
  • diastole
  • heart function tests
  • verapamil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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