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NBME 24 Answers

nbme24/Block 4/Question#11

A 53-year-old woman comes to the physician because ...

Fixed cardiac output in spite of increased demand

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submitted by neonem(227),

this patient has symptomatic aortic stenosis. This can be identified by the ventricular hypertrophy (to compensate for increased functional afterload from non-compliant aortic valve), midsystolic murmur and the location at the normal aortic area.

Per UpToDate on Clinical manifestations of Aortic Stenosis:

"Dizziness and syncope — Syncope occurs as a presenting symptom in approximately 10 percent of patients with symptomatic severe AS (or approximately 3 percent of all patients with severe AS) [3]. There are several proposed explanations for exertional dizziness (presyncope) or syncope in patients with AS, both of which reflect decreased cerebral perfusion. Exercise-induced vasodilation in the presence of an obstruction with fixed cardiac output can result in hypotension."

guillo12  What does "fixed cardiac output" signify? +  
usmleuser007  "fixed cardiac output" might mean that with the stenosis (ie. narrowed aortic valve) there is a limited or rather reduced cardiac output. Exercise would not increase cardiac output because the stenosis is caused by a mechanical (physical) rather than a biochemical process. Therefore, At any given moment the heart can not increase its output no matter how forcefully it contracts. +1