20. Metabolism and energetics of cardiac muscle

Myocardial metabolism

The heart requires a lot of energy, not just to contract but also to maintain ion gradients. The myocardium performs only aerobic (oxygen-dependent) metabolism and not anaerobic (oxygen-independent) metabolism. This means that the myocardium requires large amounts of oxygen.

The oxygen is supplied by the coronary circulation. When the myocardium works harder it requires more energy and therefore more blood, so the coronary circulation must increase.

The myocardium generates most of its energy during rest from breaking down free fatty acids in the blood. During activity the myocardium switches to using mostly lactate instead.

Myocardial energetics

The energy the myocardium uses is directly related to the amount of myocardial muscle strain or tension. It is harder for the muscle to contract when it is under strain, so the muscle needs more energy to contract.

The strain depends on multiple factors:

  • The afterload
  • The contractility
  • The heart rate

When either of these increase the energy demand of the myocardium increases.


Previous page:
19. Cardiac output. Measurement, normal standards and physiological variations

Next page:
21. Ventricular wall tension and the Laplace relationship

Leave a Reply

Only the "Comment" field must be filled in. It is not compulsory to fill out your name; you can remain anonymous. Do not fill out e-mail or website; if you do, your comment will not be published.