Left ventricular diastolic function plays an important role in cardiac physiology. Lusitropy, the ability of the cardiac myocytes to relax, is affected by both biochemical events within the myocyte and biomechanical events in the left ventricle. β-Adrenergic stimulation alters diastole by enhancing the phosphorylation of phospholamban, a substrate within the myocyte that increases the uptake of calcium ions into the sarcoplasmic reticulum, increasing the rate of relaxation. Troponin I, a regulatory protein involved in the coupling of excitation to contraction, is vital to maintaining the diastolic state; depletion of troponin I can produce diastolic dysfunction. Other biochemical events, such as defects in the voltage-sensitive release mechanism or in inositol triphosphate calcium release channels, have also been implicated in altering diastolic tone. Extracellular collagen determines myocardial stiffness; impaired glucose tolerance can induce an increase in collagen cross-linking and lead to higher end-diastolic pressures. The passive properties of the left ventricle are most accurately measured during the diastasis and atrial contraction phases of diastole. These phases of the cardiac cycle are the least affected by volume status, afterload, inherent viscoelasticity, and the inotropic state of the myocardium. Diastolic abnormalities can be conceptualized by using pressure-volume loops that illustrate myocardial work and both diastolic and systolic pressure-volume relationships. The pressure-volume model is an educational tool that can be used to demonstrate isolated changes in preload, afterload, inotropy, and lusitropy and their interaction.

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