Models of the Heart

  • Branko Furst


The complex nature of interaction between the heart and the circulation was well recognized among the early nineteenth-century physiologists, and despite numerous technical challenges associated with “opening of the circuit,” attempts were made to investigate the mechanical behavior of the heart itself. The ideas that led to the development and application of this radical experiment played a key role in the understanding of the mechanical and energetic function of the heart which remains incomplete. Further discussed are: recirculating and non-recirculating isolated heart preparations; Otto Frank’s and Ernest Starling’s isolated heart preparations and original formulation of the “law of the heart”; similarity between the isolated heart preparation and the hydraulic ram as a unique model of heart’s mechanical action; quantification of ventricular pump function by the “three element Windkessel”; the “physiological enigma” of the high myocardial basal metabolic rate and its low mechanical efficiency; length-dependent activation of the cardiac muscle and the reformulation of the “law of the heart” in terms of myocardial energetics; and the conceptual drawbacks of the total artificial hearts and relative success of the ventricular assist and continuous flow devices.


Isolated heart preparations Frank-Starling’s law of the heart Hydraulic ram Three element Windkessel model Quantification of ventricular pump Ventricular elastance model Myocardial energetics Length-dependent activation of myocardium External myocardial work Myocardial elastance Ventricular assist devices Continuous flow devices Total artificial heart 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Branko Furst
    • 1
  1. 1.Professor of AnesthesiologyAlbany Medical CollegeAlbanyUSA

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