The course of active state in heart muscle has been analyzed using a modified quick release method. The onset of maximum active state was found to be delayed, requiring 110–500 msec from time of stimulation, while the time to peak isometric tension required 250–650 msec. Further, the time from stimulation to peak tension was linearly related to the time required to establish maximum intensity of active state as well as to the duration of maximum active state. The duration of maximum active state was prolonged (90–220 msec), occupying most of the latter half of the rising phase of the isometric contraction. Norepinephrine (10-5 M) shortened the latency from electrical stimulus to mechanical response, accelerated the onset of maximum active state, increased its intensity, decreased its duration, and accelerated its rate of decline. These changes were accompanied by an increase in the rate of tension development and the tension developed while the time from stimulation to peak isometric tension was abbreviated. Similar findings were shown for strophanthidin (1 µg/ml) although lesser decrements in the duration of maximum active state and time to peak tension were found than with norepinephrine for similar increments in the maximum intensity of active state.

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