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1.2.08

CVS Tricky Questions

A 65-year-old male visits his family practitioner for a yearly examination. Measurement of his blood pressure
reveals a systolic pressure of 190 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure of 100 mm Hg. His heart rate is 74/min and
pulse pressure is 90 mm Hg. A decrease in which of the following is the most likely explanation for the high pulse
pressure?


A. Arterial compliance

B. Cardiac output

C. Myocardial contractility

D. Stroke volume

E. Total peripheral resistance


Explanation:

The correct answer is A. A decrease in arterial compliance indicates that the arterial wall is stiffer (i.e., less
distensible). When the compliance of the arterial system decreases, the rise in arterial pressure becomes
greater for a given stroke volume pumped into the arteries. In the normal young adult, the systolic blood
pressure is about 120 mm Hg and the diastolic blood pressure is about 80 mm Hg. Because the pulse pressure
is the difference between the systolic and diastolic blood pressures, the normal pulse pressure is about 40 mm
Hg in a healthy young adult. However, in older adults the pulse pressure sometimes increases as much as two
times normal because the arteries become hardened by arteriosclerosis.

The cardiac output (choice B) itself has no direct effect on the pulse pressure; however, if a decrease in
cardiac output is associated with a decrease in stroke volume, the pulse pressure would be expected to
decrease.

A decrease in myocardial contractility (choice C) would be expected to decrease stroke volume, and therefore
cause the pulse pressure to decrease.

A decrease in stroke volume (choice D) causes the pulse pressure to decrease because a smaller amount of
blood enters the arterial system with each heartbeat, and the rise and fall of pressure during systole and - 1 -
diastole is decreased.

A decrease in total peripheral resistance (choice E), i.e., vasodilation, does not have a significant effect on the
pulse pressure of the major arteries under normal conditions.



A 54-year-old male is seen in clinic with complaints of palpitations and light-headedness. Physical examination is
remarkable for a heart rate of greater than 200 beats per minute and a blood pressure of 75/40 mm Hg. What
adjustments have probably occurred in the cardiac cycle?


A. Diastolic time has decreased and systolic time has increased

B. Diastolic time has decreased but systolic time has decreased more

C. Systolic time has decreased and diastolic time has increased

D. Systolic time has decreased but diastolic time has decreased more

E. Systolic time has decreased but diastolic time has not changed


Explanation:

The correct answer is D. Under normal conditions, one-third of the cardiac cycle is spent in systole and
two-thirds spent in diastole. As heart rate increases dramatically, the time spent in diastole falls precipitously
but the time spent in systole falls only slightly.

A large increase in heart rate must produce a decrease in both diastole and systole (compare with choice A).

The major change with increased heart rate is in diastole, not systole (compare with choice B).

Heart rate cannot increase if diastolic time increases (choice C).

An increase in heart rate must be accompanied by a decrease in diastolic time (compare with choice E).


In a tissue capillary, the interstitial hydrostatic pressure is 2 mm Hg, the capillary hydrostatic pressure is 25 mm
Hg and the interstitial oncotic pressure is 7 mm Hg. If the net driving force across the capillary wall is 3 mm Hg
favoring filtration, what is the capillary oncotic pressure?


A. 21 mm Hg

B. 23 mm Hg

C. 24 mm Hg

D. 25 mm Hg

E. 27 mm Hg


Explanation:

The correct answer is E. The net driving force for fluid across a capillary wall is calculated by the following:

driving force = (hydrostaticc− (hydrostatici) − (oncoticc - oncotici)

where:

hydrostatici = interstitial hydrostatic pressure

hydrostaticc = capillary hydrostatic pressure

oncotici = interstitial oncotic pressure

oncoticc = capillary oncotic pressure

Substituting the values in the question stem: 3 = (25 - 2) - (x - 7). Simplifying, 3 = 23 - x + 7, therefore = 27.



Q 4
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Blood is flowing through the circuit shown above. The inflow pressure is 100 mm Hg and the outflow pressure is 10
mm Hg. The resistance of each of the five branches is 5 mm Hg/mL/min. What is the flow across the circuit?


A. 3.6 mL/min

B. 45 mL/min

C. 90 mL/min

D. 135 mL/min

E. 180 mL/min


Explanation:

The correct answer is C. Because the various resistances (R1-R5) are arranged in parallel, the total resistance of
the circuit (RT) is calculated using the following formula: 1/RT = 1/R1 + 1/R2 + 1/R3 + 1/R4 + 1/R5. Therefore, the
resistance of the circuit is 1/ RT = 1/5 + 1/5 + 1/5 + 1/5 +1 /5 = 1 mm Hg/mL/min. Because flow = Δ
pressure/resistance, the total flow through the circuit is (100 - 10 mm Hg)/1 mm Hg/mL/min = 90 mL/min. Note from
the equation that the total resistance (RT) decreases when additional resistances are added in parallel to the
circuit. Conversely, the total resistance increases when parallel resistances are removed. Because the various
organs of the body are arranged in parallel, the total peripheral resistance increases when an organ is removed.



Q 5[IMG]file:///C:/DOCUME%7E1/Owner/LOCALS%7E1/Temp/msohtml1/01/clip_image004.jpg[/IMG]




A work diagram showing changes in left ventricular volume and pressure during one cardiac cycle is shown in the
figure above. Which of the following values is the diastolic blood pressure?


A. 0 mm Hg

B. 5 mm Hg

C. 80 mm Hg

D. 110 mm Hg

E. 125 mm Hg


Explanation:

The correct answer is C. The volume-pressure diagram is from a normal heart. The aortic valve opens at point B,
which marks the beginning of the period of ejection. The pressure at this point is equal to the diastolic blood
pressure, which is about 80 mm Hg on the diagram. Point D corresponds to the incisura or dicrotic notch on the
pressure pulse contour, which signals closure of the aortic valve. Point D is commonly mistaken to be the diastolic
pressure: you may wish to consult a diagram which shows simultaneous pressures in the aorta and left ventricle
along with the various heart sounds. Point C corresponds to the peak systolic pressure in the left ventricle and is
usually 2 or 3 mm Hg higher than the peak systolic pressure in the aorta. Point E marks the end of the period of
isovolumetric relaxation. The mitral valve opens at point E and the ventricle begins to fill with blood.


A balloon-tipped catheter is placed into a small branch of the pulmonary artery in a patient. The lumen of the
catheter opens distal to the balloon. The pressure measured from the catheter with the balloon deflated is 25/8
mm Hg. When the balloon is inflated, the pressure is 7 mm Hg and non-pulsatile. Which of the following
pressures is being approximated when the balloon is inflated?


A. Left atrial pressure

B. Left ventricular end diastolic pressure

C. Left ventricular peak systolic pressure

D. Pulmonary artery pressure

E. Right atrial pressure


Explanation:

The correct answer is A. When the balloon is deflated, the catheter simply measures the pulmonary artery
pressure (choice D), which is pulsatile with systolic/diastolic values of 25/8 mm Hg. When the balloon is inflated,
the catheter is "wedged" in a small branch of the pulmonary artery and the pressure that is measured is called
the "pulmonary wedge pressure." Because inflation of the balloon obstructs all blood flow in the artery branch,
the blood vessels distal to the point of obstruction also have no flow. One can think of these distal vessels as
physical extensions of the catheter, as they allow blood pressure to be measured on the other side of the
pulmonary circulation, i.e., in the left atrium. The pulmonary wedge pressure is usually a few mm Hg higher
compared to the left atrial pressure, but the general opinion is that pulmonary wedge pressure is a reflection of
events in the left atrium. It is usually not feasible to measure left atrial pressure directly in the normal human
being because it is difficult to pass a catheter retrograde through the aorta and left ventricle. Therefore, the
pulmonary wedge pressure provides an important clinical estimate of left atrial pressure. Be aware that
pulmonary wedge pressure may also be called pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, pulmonary arterial wedge
pressure, or simply wedge pressure.

In many instances, the pulmonary wedge pressure can provide a reasonable estimate of left ventricular end
diastolic pressure (choice B). However, a notable exception is during mitral stenosis, in which the pressure in
the left atrium (and therefore, the pulmonary wedge pressure) is much higher than the left ventricular end
diastolic pressure because of the high resistance to blood flow through the stenosed valve.

The left ventricular peak systolic pressure (choice C) occurs when the mitral valve is closed, making it
impossible to be approximated using a catheter in the pulmonary artery.

The right atrial pressure (choice E) cannot be measured or approximated from a catheter in the pulmonary
artery.



Q7
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The vascular systems of five organs are arranged as shown in the drawing above. The vascular resistance of
each organ is the same and the total resistance of the entire circuit is 0.05 mm Hg/mL/min. Which of the following
values is the total resistance of the entire circuit if one of the organs was removed?


A. 0.0625 mm Hg/mL/min

B. 0.0725 mL/min/mm Hg

C. 0.04 mm Hg/mL/min

D. 0.03 mm Hg/mL/min

E. 0.01 mm Hg/mL/min


Explanation:

The correct answer is A. This problem is relatively simple if you know that removing a parallel resistance from a
circuit increases the total resistance of that circuit. Because the total resistance with all five organs in the circuit
is 0.05 mm Hg/mL/min, removing an organ would produce a total resistance greater than 0.05 mm Hg/mL/min.
Choice B can be rejected because the units are incorrect, and choices C, D, and E can be eliminated because
the values of resistance are lower than the total resistance prior to removal of the organ.

The problem is more difficult when a mathematical solution is required. The equation for parallel resistances is
the following:

Because the total resistance (RT) is 0.05 mm Hg/mL/min, 1/ 0.05 = 20 = 1/R1 + 1/R2 + 1/R3 + 1/R4 + 1/R5.
Therefore, each individual resistance must equal 0.25 mm Hg/mL/min since 1/0.25 = 4 and 4 x 5 = 20. Removing
one of the resistances therefore yields the following: 1/RT = 1/0.25 + 1/0.25 + 1/0.25 + 1/0.25 = 16. Thus, RT =
1/16 = 0.625 mm Hg/mL/min.



Q8

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A volume-pressure diagram of the left ventricle during one cardiac cycle of a normal heart is shown above. Which
point on the diagram corresponds to the second heart sound?


A. Point A

B. Point B

C. Point C

D. Point D

E. Point E

F. Point F

G. Point G

H. Point H


Explanation:

The correct answer is E. The various points on the volume-pressure diagram correspond to specific events of the
cardiac cycle as follows:

Choice A: Marks the beginning of systole. The mitral valve closes and S1 can be heard. The end diastolic
pressure (5 mm Hg) and end diastolic volume (125 mL) can be determined on the Y-axis and X-axis from this
point.

Choice B: This is the period of isovolumic contraction. Left ventricular pressure increases rapidly, but left
ventricular volume remains constant. All heart valves are closed.

Choice C: The aortic valve opens, which marks the beginning of the period of ejection. The pressure at this point
is equal to the diastolic blood pressure, which is about 80 mm Hg on the diagram.

Choice D: This is the period of ejection. The pressure at the apex of the curve is the peak systolic pressure of the
left ventricle.

Choice E: Marks the beginning of diastole. The aortic valve closes and S2 can be heard. The end systolic volume
(50 mL) can be read from the X-axis at this point.

Choice F: The is the period of isovolumic relaxation. Left ventricular pressure is falling rapidly, but left ventricular
volume remains constant. All heart valves are closed.

Choice G: The mitral valve opens and the period of filling begins.

Choice H: This is the period of filling.




A patient complaining of chest pain with exercise is evaluated by cardiac catheterization. The left anterior
descending (LAD) branch of the coronary artery is visualized but the contrast angiography is poor. A
Doppler-tipped catheter is inserted and the blood velocity is observed to increase transiently from 10 cm/sec to
70 cm/sec and then decrease back to 10 cm/sec as the probe passes a particular location in the artery. What
was the cause of these changes in velocity measurements?


A. A coronary artery aneurysm with a cross-sectional area 1/7th the size of the native artery

B. A coronary artery aneurysm with a cross-sectional area 7 times greater than the native artery

C. A coronary artery obstruction with a cross-sectional area 1/7th of the size of the native
artery

D. A coronary artery obstruction with a cross-sectional area 7 times greater than the native artery


Explanation:

The correct answer is C. Velocity has increased 7-fold, indicating a decrease in cross-sectional area by a factor
of 7. This would be caused by an obstruction, not an aneurysm.

Choice A is incorrect, because a coronary artery aneurysm would produce an increase in cross-sectional area
rather than a decrease.

Flow has increased 7-fold, indicating a decrease in vessel diameter, thus choices B and D are incorrect.

Which of the following vascular structures contains the largest proportion of the total blood volume in a normal
individual?


A. Aorta and large arteries

B. Arterioles

C. Capillaries

D. Chambers of the heart

E. Pulmonary vasculature

F. Vena cavae

G. Venules and veins


Explanation:

The correct answer is G. The total blood volume of the body is about 5000 mL. The systemic veins contain
about 64% of this volume or about 3200 mL. The vena cavae (choice F) contain a small fraction of the total
venous volume. No other segment of the circulation comes close to the amount of blood contained by the
systemic veins: the pulmonary vasculature (choice E) contains about 450 mL; the chambers of the heart
(choice D) contain about 350 mL; the aorta and large arteries (choice A) together contain about 650 mL; and
the arterioles and capillaries (choices B and C) together contain about 350 mL. Although the capillaries contain
less than 7% of the total blood volume, they have a very large surface area which facilitates diffusion exchange
of nutrients and metabolites between the blood and tissue spaces.



A healthy, 25-year-old female medical student has an exercise stress test at a local health club. Which of the
following is most likely to occur in this woman's skeletal muscles during exercise?


A. Decreased blood flow

B. Decreased metabolite concentrations

C. Increased arteriolar diameter

D. Increased oxygen concentration

E. Increased vascular resistance


Explanation:

The correct answer is C. Blood flow can increase as much as 20-fold in exercising skeletal muscle, which is a
greater increase than in any other tissue in the body. This tremendous increase in blood flow results almost
entirely from the actions of local vasodilator substances on the muscle arterioles. During exercise, the muscles
use oxygen more rapidly than it can be delivered by the blood, which decreases the oxygen concentration
(choice D) in the tissues. The oxygen deficiency causes vasodilator metabolites (choice B) such as adenosine,
carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and others to accumulate in the tissues. The vasodilator metabolites acting on the
arterioles lead to a reduction in vascular resistance (choice E) and an increase in blood flow (choice A).



Q12


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The figure above shows four phases of coronary blood flow in the left coronary artery during one complete cardiac
cycle. During which of the four phases indicated on the figure does the coronary circulation deliver the most oxygen
to the left ventricle?


A. Phase 1

B. Phase 2

C. Phase 3

D. Phase 4


Explanation:

The correct answer is A. Oxygen delivery to the left ventricle is equal to the oxygen content of the arterial blood
entering the heart multiplied by the coronary blood flow. Because the oxygen content of blood entering the
coronary circulation is similar during all phases of the cardiac cycle, oxygen delivery to the left ventricle is
dependent entirely upon coronary blood flow. The vast majority of blood flow in the left coronary artery occurs
during phase 1, which corresponds to the filling phase of ventricular diastole. Phase 2 (choice B) corresponds to
the period of isovolumic contraction. Phase 3 (choice C) corresponds to the period of ejection, and phase 4
(choice D) corresponds to the period of isovolumic relaxation. Although phase 4 has a peak blood flow similar to
that of phase 1, the total amount of oxygen delivered to the myocardium during phase 4 is relatively low because
of its short duration.



Q13
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A work diagram showing changes in left ventricular volume and pressure during one cardiac cycle is depicted
above. To which of the following phases of the cardiac cycle does the portion of the graph labeled number 3
correspond?


A. Isometric contraction

B. Isometric relaxation

C. Isotonic contraction

D. Isotonic relaxation


Explanation:

The correct answer is A. During each cardiac cycle, the walls of the ventricle undergo isometric contraction and
relaxation as well as isotonic contraction and relaxation. Muscle contraction and relaxation is considered to be
isometric when the muscle length does not change, and isotonic when the muscle length does change with a
constant tension on the muscle. Phase 3 corresponds to a period of isometric contraction, referred to as the
period of isovolumetric or isovolumic contraction. The ventricle is contracting and the pressure is rising, but the
volume of the ventricle remains constant, thus muscle length is relatively constant. The aortic valve opens when
ventricular pressure exceeds about 80 mm Hg, allowing blood to eject from the heart, which begins a phase of
isotonic contraction (phase 2, choice C). This phase is called the period of ejection. Phase 1 begins when the
ventricle relaxes and the aortic valve closes (period of isovolumetric or isovolumic relaxation). Phase 1 is a period
of isometric relaxation (choice B), referred to as the period of isovolumic or isovolumetric relaxation. The ventricle
relaxes and the pressure falls during phase 1, but the volume of the ventricle remains constant, thus muscle
length is relatively constant. Phase 4 begins when the mitral valve opens. This is a period of isotonic relaxation
(choice D) in which the relaxed ventricle fills with blood; it is called the period of filling.



Q14

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The vascular systems of five organs are arranged as shown in the drawing above. The arterial inflow pressures
and venous outflow pressures are the same for all organs. What is the total resistance of the entire circuit if the
resistance of each of the five organs is 0.25 mm Hg/mL/min?


A. 0.01 mm Hg/mL/min

B. 0.02 mm Hg/mL/min

C. 0.05 mm Hg/mL/min

D. 1.25 mm Hg/mL/min

E. 20.0 mm Hg/mL/min


Explanation:

The correct answer is C. Because the five organs are arranged in parallel, the total resistance of the circuit (RT)
is calculated as follows: 1/RT = 1/0.25 +1/0.25 + 1/0.25 +1/0.25 +1/0.25 = 20 mm Hg/mL/min. Therefore, RT =
1/20 = 0.05 mm Hg/mL/min. The various organs of the body are arranged in parallel and therefore contribute a
parallel resistance to the peripheral circulation. You should recall that adding resistances (R1, R2, R3...) in
parallel reduces the total resistance (RT) of a circuit because of the manner in which parallel resistances are
added, i.e., 1/ RT = 1/ R1 + 1/ R2 + 1/ R3. Note also from the equation that removing a parallel resistance (R1,
R2, or R3) increases the total resistance (RT).




A 78-year-old woman has a mean arterial pressure of 120 mm Hg and a heart rate of 60/min. She has a stroke
volume of 50 mL, cardiac output of 3000 mL/min, and a right atrial pressure of 0 mm Hg. What is the total
peripheral resistance (in mm Hg/mL/min) in this woman?


A. 0.01

B. 0.02

C. 0.04

D. 0.08

E. 0.10


Explanation:

The correct answer is C. Total peripheral resistance (TPR) is equal to the pressure gradient across the
circulation (mean arterial pressure - right atrial pressure) divided by the cardiac output. Thus, TPR = 120/3000
= 0.04 mm Hg/mL/min. The "ABC rule" is useful in remembering the relation between pressure (P), flow (Q),
and resistance (R) because P = QR (note the alphabetical order). Note also that knowledge of heart rate and
stroke volume are not required to solve this problem because cardiac output is provided.



Q16
[IMG]file:///C:/DOCUME%7E1/Owner/LOCALS%7E1/Temp/msohtml1/01/clip_image013.jpg[/IMG]


A research physiologist is studying the effects of hypoxia on vascular resistance. An anesthetized animal is
ventilated with varying partial pressures of oxygen and the venous outflow from different organs is measured using
Doppler technology. The graph depicted above most likely represents data obtained from the


A. brain

B. kidney

C. liver

D. lungs

E. spleen


Explanation:

The correct answer is D. The graph indicates that blood flow decreases with hypoxia. Only the lungs exhibit
vasoconstriction in response to hypoxia (pulmonary hypoxic vasoconstriction). This is an adaptive mechanism that
causes blood to shunt away from regions of the lung which are poorly ventilated (e.g., because of airway
obstruction) to areas which are better ventilated. In other organs, vasodilation generally occurs in response to
hypoxia.



During normal diastole, which of the following is most important in preventing over-distension of the ventricles?


A. Adjacent lungs

B. Aortic valve

C. Diaphragm

D. Fibrous pericardium

E. Mitral valve


Explanation:

The correct answer is D. The fibrous pericardium, which surrounds the heart, does not simply separate the
heart from other chest structures, but has the important physiologic role of limiting the distension of the heart
during diastole. This helps keep the (normal) heart functioning in a useful part of Starling's curve. In congestive
heart failure, the slow enlargement of the heart also enlarges the fibrous pericardium, and this protective
function may be lost.

The lungs (choice A) and diaphragm (choice C) do not usually significantly limit cardiac expansion during
diastole.

Shutting and opening of the aortic (choice B) and mitral valves (choice E) are mechanical events that occur
secondary to the changes in muscle tone in the cardiac chambers.



During cardiac examination of a newborn infant, a murmur is detected, and the diagnosis of patent ductus
arteriosus is made. Which of the following best describes the direction of blood flow through the patent ductus
arteriosus in this infant?


A. From aorta to left pulmonary artery

B. From aorta to left pulmonary vein

C. From aorta to right pulmonary artery

D. From left pulmonary artery to aorta

E. From right pulmonary artery to aorta


Explanation:

The correct answer is A. The ductus arteriosus connects the left pulmonary artery to the aortic arch. It is
derived from the left sixth aortic arch. During prenatal life, the pressure gradient causes blood to flow from the
left pulmonary artery to the aorta. However, after birth, the pressure gradient reverses, and if the ductus
arteriosus remains patent, the flow is from the aorta to the left pulmonary artery.

The ductus arteriosus does not connect to the pulmonary veins or the right pulmonary artery (choices B, C,
and E).

The flow through the ductus arteriosus is from the left pulmonary artery to the aorta (choice D) prior to birth,
but reverses after birth.



Type of blood vessel
Fall in blood pressure (mm Hg) (% of total peripheral resistance)
Aorta and large arteries
<1
Small arteries
10-20
Arterioles
50
Capillaries
25
Venules and small veins
9
Vena cave
<1


The table above shows the fall in blood pressure that occurs for the various types of blood vessels as blood flows
from the aorta (100 mm Hg) to the right atrium (0 mm Hg). Which of the following types of blood vessel is likely to
have the highest ratio of wall cross-sectional area to lumen cross-sectional area?


A. Aorta and large arteries

B. Small arteries

C. Arterioles

D. Capillaries

E. Venules and small veins

F. Vena cavae


Explanation:

The correct answer is C. The table shows that the greatest fall in blood pressure (50 mm Hg) occurs in the
arterioles, which indicates that the arterioles account for about 50% of the total peripheral resistance. The
structural characteristics of arterioles are consistent with their function as control valves that regulate blood flow
to the capillary networks of the body. Thus, arterioles are thick-walled vessels with the highest ratio of wall
cross-sectional area to lumen cross-sectional area. This does not mean that arterioles have thicker walls
compared to arteries. It simply means that the walls of arterioles are relatively thick compared to their overall
size (diameter). The wall-to-lumen ratio of arteries, which includes the aorta (choice A) as well as large (choice
A) and small arteries (choice B), is less than that of arterioles but greater than that of venules and veins
(choices E and F). The capillaries (choice D) lack smooth muscle cells in their walls, which makes wall-to-lumen
ratio measurements much less meaningful.



A healthy 22-year-old female medical student has an exercise stress test at a local health club. Which of the
following is most likely to decrease in her skeletal muscles during exercise?


A. Arteriolar resistance

B. Carbon dioxide concentration

C. Lactic acid concentration

D. Sympathetic nervous activity

E. Vascular conductance


Explanation:

The correct answer is A. The increase in muscle blood flow that occurs during exercise is caused by dilation of
the arterioles (i.e., decreased arteriolar resistance). In normal skeletal muscles, the blood flow can increase as
much as 20-fold during strenuous exercise. Most of this increase in blood flow can be attributed to the dilatory
actions of metabolic factors (e.g., adenosine, lactic acid, carbon dioxide) produced by the exercising muscles.

Exercise causes the concentration of carbon dioxide (choice B) and lactic acid (choice C) to increase in the
muscles.

Mass discharge of the sympathetic nervous system (choice D) occurs throughout the body during exercise,
causing arterioles to constrict in most tissues. The arterioles in the exercising muscles, however, are strongly
dilated by vasodilator substances released from the muscles.

A decrease in vascular conductance (choice E) occurs when the vasculature is constricted. Resistance and
conductance are inversely related, so that a decrease in arteriolar resistance is associated with an increase in
arteriolar conductance.


During surgical removal of an invasive glioma from the skull base, cranial nerves IX and X are accidentally cut
bilaterally. What would be the immediate change in the patient's hemodynamic condition?


A. Bradycardia with hypertension

B. Bradycardia with hypotension

C. Sinus arrhythmia with hypotension

D. Tachycardia with hypertension

E. Tachycardia with hypotension


Explanation:

The correct answer is D. The glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX) and the vagus nerve (CN X) carry afferent
information to the medulla from the carotid sinus and aortic arch baroreceptors, respectively. The firing rate of
these neurons increases with increasing blood pressure. Therefore, severing these nerves sends the medulla
a false signal that the patient has suddenly lost all blood pressure. This elicits a baroreceptor reflex, resulting in
an increase in sympathetic outflow and leading to tachycardia and hypertension.




After an accident at work resulting in severe hemorrhage, a machinist is rushed to the emergency room. Which of
the following sets of autonomic responses would be predicted in this patient?



Heart rate
Bowel sounds
Pupil diameter

A. Decreased
Decreased
Constricted

B. Decreased
Decreased
Dilated

C. Decreased
Increased
Constricted

D. Decreased
Increased
Dilated

E. Increased
Decreased
Constricted

F. Increased
Decreased
Dilated

G. Increased
Increased
Constricted

H. Increased
Increased
Dilated


Explanation:

The correct answer is F. This is simply a question about baroreceptor reflexes. The reflex response that would be
anticipated after a decrease in blood pressure (e.g., after a hemorrhage) would be an increase in sympathetic
outflow and a decrease in parasympathetic outflow. As a result, heart rate would increase, gastrointestinal motility
would decrease, and the pupils would dilate.


The table below shows the pressure gradient, radius, and viscosity of blood in various vessels of the same length.
Which vessel has the highest flow?



Vessel
Pressure gradient
Radius
Viscosity

A. A
100
1
10

B. B
50
2
5

C. C
25
4
2

D. D
10
6
1


Explanation:

The correct answer is D. Recall that flow = pressure gradient/resistance. Also recall that resistance (R) is
inversely proportional to the fourth power of the radius (R α 1/ radius4) and proportional to the first power
of the blood viscosity (R α viscosity). The problem can be confusing because the vessels with the highest
pressure gradient and radius also have the highest viscosity. However, the discerning student will note that the
6-fold increase in radius will cause a 1296-fold increase in flow, and that the range of pressure and viscosity
given in the table will have a relatively minor effect on flow as compared to the effect of vessel radius.



In which segment of the systemic circulation does the greatest decrease in blood pressure occur?


A. Aorta and large arteries

B. Arterioles

C. Capillaries

D. Small arteries

E. Vena cavae and large veins

F. Venules and small veins


Explanation:

The correct answer is B. As blood flows through the systemic circulation the mean pressure of the blood
decreases from about 100 mm Hg in the aorta to about 0 mm Hg in the right atrium. The mean blood pressure is
about the same in all portions of the aorta (choice A) and it only falls by a few mm Hg in the large arteries
(choice A). The blood pressure decreases by 10 to 20 mm Hg in the small arteries (choice D) so that blood
entering the arterioles has a pressure averaging about 80 to 90 mm Hg. By the time the blood has reached the
ends of the arterioles (choice B) the pressure has fallen to about 35 mm Hg. The pressure falls another 25 mm
Hg as it flows through the capillary network (choice C), so that blood entering the venules has a pressure of
about 10 mm Hg. The blood pressure falls by about 10 mm Hg as it flows along the venous system (choices E
and F) to the right atrium.

The fall in blood pressure (from 100 to 0 mm Hg) along the various types of blood vessels in the circulation is
summarized in the table. The table also shows the relative resistance (expressed as % of total peripheral
resistance) to blood flow in the various segments of the circulation.

Type of blood vessel
Fall in blood pressure (mm Hg) (% of total peripheral resistance)
Aorta and large arteries
<1
Small arteries
10-20
Arterioles
50
Capillaries
25
Venules and small veins
9
Vena cave
<1





A 60-year-old male with heart disease is brought to the emergency room. Cardiovascular evaluation reveals a
resting O2 consumption of 200 mL/min, a peripheral arterial O2 content of 0.20 mL O2/ml of blood, and a mixed
venous O2 content of 0.15 mL O2/mL of blood. What is his cardiac output?


A. 2.5 L/min

B. 4.0 L/min

C. 10.0 L/min

D. 25.0 L/min

E. 100.0 L/min


Explanation:

The correct answer is B. Cardiac output can be measured by way of O2 consumption using the Fick principle:

CO= O2 Consumption / O2 arterial – O2 Venous

In this case, oxygen consumption was 200 mL/min, [O2] arterial was 0.20 mL O2/mL of blood, and [O2] venous was
0.15 mL O2/mL of blood:

C.O = 200ml/ min // 0.20- 0.15
= 200 / .05
=4000 ml/min
=4 L/Min

Choice A corresponds to a very low cardiac output, as average cardiac output is taken to be approximately 5
L/min.

Choices C, D, and E are illogical since the heart is virtually incapable of pumping so much blood in 1 minute,
especially in a patient with heart disease.



A cardiovascular physiologist performs an experiment on an animal subject to study heart rate and blood
pressure changes with nerve stimulation. He selectively stimulates the afferent portions of the glossopharyngeal
and vagus nerves. Which of the following outcomes would most likely occur after this manipulation?


A. Bradycardia with hypertension

B. Bradycardia with hypotension

C. Sinus arrhythmia with hypotension

D. Tachycardia with hypertension

E. Tachycardia with hypotension


Explanation:

The correct answer is B. The glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX) and the vagus nerve (CN X) carry afferent
information to the medulla from the carotid sinus and aortic arch baroreceptors, respectively. The firing rate of
these neurons increases with increasing blood pressure. Therefore, by artificially increasing the firing rate of
these nerves, the medulla receives a false signal that indicates that the blood pressure is too high. This elicits a
baroreceptor reflex, resulting in a decrease in sympathetic outflow and an increase in parasympathetic outflow,
which leads to bradycardia and hypotension.



A researcher is carrying out an experiment on an anesthetized animal to study the cardiovascular and neural
responses to various types of stimuli. His experimental setup allows him to measure blood pressure and monitor
the electrocardiogram. He carefully isolates the afferent nerves from the carotid sinus and aortic arch and implants
microelectrodes to record nerve activity. After taking baseline measurements, he massages the right carotid artery
for 60 seconds. Which of the following data sets would best correspond to his experimental findings during the
carotid massage?


A.

B.

C.

D.

E.

F.


Explanation:

The correct answer is B. This is actually a straightforward question. The fastest way to approach this question is
to predict the physiological responses that would occur as a result of a carotid massage and identify the
appropriate graph, rather than spending the time to read all of the graphs.

During a carotid massage, the carotid sinus baroreceptors sense the increase in pressure. This leads to an
increase in afferent traffic (firing rate) in the glossopharyngeal nerve. A signal indicating high blood pressure
travels to the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) in the medulla, and a baroreceptor reflex occurs. The animal is
"tricked" into thinking it has high blood pressure, so it decreases sympathetic outflow and increases
parasympathetic outflow, leading to decreases in blood pressure and heart rate. Meanwhile, the aortic arch
baroreceptors, which are innervated by the vagus nerve, correctly sense that the blood pressure has decreased.
This decreases afferent traffic along the vagus nerve to the brain stem.

If you simply knew that a carotid massage leads to a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate, you could
immediately narrow your choices to A and B. Knowledge of baroreceptor physiology allows you to distinguish
between A and B.



Respiratory rate
15
Blood pressure
120/80 mm Hg
Cardiac output
5 L
Heart rate
50


A 25-year-old man is participating in a clinical study to determine the cardiovascular response to physical
exercise. Basal measurements are shown above. What is his stroke volume during resting conditions (in
mL/min)?


A. 50

B. 75

C. 100

D. 125

E. 150


Explanation:

The correct answer is C. The cardiac output (CO) is equal to the volume of blood ejected from the heart during
each systole (i.e., the stroke volume; SV) multiplied by the number of times the heart beats each minute (heart
rate; HR). In other words, CO = SV x HR. Therefore, SV = CO/HR, and since CO = 5000 mL/min, and HR =
50/min, SV = 5000/50 = 100 mL.



A healthy 28-year-old woman stands up from a supine position. Which of the following cardiovascular changes is
most likely to occur?


A. Decreased myocardial contractility

B. Decreased total peripheral resistance

C. Dilation of large veins

D. Increased heart rate

E. Increased renal blood flow


Explanation:

The correct answer is D. The baroreceptor mechanism is important for maintaining arterial pressure when a
person sits or stands from a lying position. When a person suddenly stands, the blood pressure in the brain
and upper body tends to fall, which initiates a strong sympathetic discharge throughout the body aimed at
returning blood pressure to normal. Increasing sympathetic stimulation to the heart causes an increase in heart
rate, conduction velocity, and myocardial contractility (compare with choice A). The sympathetic stimulation also
causes constriction of nearly all the arterioles in the body, which greatly increases the total peripheral
resistance (compare with choice B). Sympathetic stimulation of the renal vasculature leads to a decrease in
renal blood flow (compare with choice E). Constriction of large veins (compare with choice C) increases venous
return to the heart, causing the heart to pump increased amounts of blood.


A medical student is studying the fluid exchange in skeletal muscle capillaries in a laboratory animal. He
determines that fluid is being forced out of a capillary with a net filtration pressure of 8 mm Hg, and obtains the
following laboratory values:
Capillary hydrostatic pressure = 24 mm Hg,
Capillary colloid osmotic pressure = 17 mm Hg,
Interstitial hydrostatic pressure = 7 mm Hg.

What is the interstitial osmotic pressure?


A. –9 mm Hg

B. –8 mm Hg

C. –6 mm Hg

D. 6 mm Hg

E. 8 mm Hg

F. 9 mm Hg


Explanation:

The correct answer is E. To calculate the direction and driving force for fluid movement use the Starling
equation [net filtration pressure = (Pc− Pi) − (πc−πi)]. The net pressure in this case is
positive because fluid is being forced out of the capillary.

Pc = capillary hydrostatic pressure = 24, πc = capillary colloid osmotic pressure = 17 and Pi = hydrostatic
osmotic pressure = 7. Substituting these values into the equation and solving for πi, we get:

8 mm Hg = (24 − 7) − (17 −πi) mm Hg

πi = 8 mm Hg




A 56-year old woman has a mean systemic blood pressure of 100 mm Hg and a resting cardiac output of 4 L/min.
What is the total peripheral resistance of this woman?


A. 0.025 mL/min/mm Hg

B. 0.025 mm Hg/mL/min

C. 40 mL/min/mm Hg

D. 40 mm Hg/min/mL

E. 4000 mm Hg x L/min


Explanation:

The correct answer is B. Total peripheral resistance (TPR) is equal to the pressure gradient across the
circulation (mean arterial pressure - right atrial pressure) divided by the cardiac output. Right atrial pressure is
assumed to equal 0 mm Hg. Thus, TPR = 100/4000 = 0.025 mm Hg/mL/min. The "ABC rule" is useful in
remembering the relation between pressure (P), flow (Q), and resistance (R) because P=QR (in alphabetical
order). Note that choices A, C, D, and E can be eliminated quickly because in each case the units are incorrect.



During an experimental procedure, a cardiovascular researcher prepares his anesthetized animal subject for
blood pressure and electrocardiogram monitoring. He then isolates and electrically stimulates glossopharyngeal
afferent fibers that supply the carotid sinus. Which of the following changes would most likely occur in this
subject?


A. Hypertension with bradycardia

B. Hypertension with tachycardia

C. Hypotension with bradycardia

D. Hypotension with tachycardia

E. No changes in blood pressure or heart rate


Explanation:

The correct answer is C. The glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX) and the vagus nerve (CN X) carry afferent
information to the medulla from the carotid sinus and aortic arch baroreceptors, respectively. The firing rate of
these neurons increases with increasing blood pressure. Therefore, stimulation of the glossopharyngeal nerve
sends the medulla a false signal that the animal has suddenly had an increase in blood pressure. This elicits a
baroreceptor reflex resulting in a decrease in sympathetic outflow and an increase in parasympathetic outflow,
leading to hypotension and bradycardia.



In which type of blood vessel is the mean linear velocity of a red blood cell the lowest?


A. Aorta and large arteries

B. Arterioles

C. Capillaries

D. Small arteries

E. Vena cavae and large veins

F. Venules and small veins


Explanation:

The correct answer is C. The same volume of blood flows through each of the different types of blood vessels
each minute. Because the capillaries have the largest cross-sectional area (averaging 2500-5000 cm2), and
because the velocity of blood flow is inversely related to cross-sectional area, it is clear that the mean linear
velocity of a red blood cell is lowest in the capillaries. Under resting conditions, the mean linear velocity of a red
blood cell in the capillaries is 0.3-0.6 mm/sec, whereas, the velocity in the aorta (choice A) is about 200
mm/sec. This low velocity of red blood cells in the capillary network allows plenty of time for oxygen to diffuse to
the tissues.

The velocity of blood flow is ranked from highest to lowest as follows: aorta (choice A) > vena cavae (choice E)
> large veins (choice E) > small arteries (choice D) > arterioles (choice B) > small veins (choice F) > venules
(choice F) > capillaries. This ranking assumes the vena cavae have a larger cross-sectional area than the
aorta; however, when the vena cavae are partially collapsed (which occurs often) they have a lower
cross-sectional area and a higher velocity of blood flow compared to the aorta.

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