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Cardiovascular Physiology Concepts

Richard E. Klabunde, PhD


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Cardiac Function Tutorial

This tutorial provides a systematic approach to learning by using a sequence that is similar to how this topic would unfold in a traditional textbook. The student is encouraged to go not only to the initial link associated with each tutorial question but also to use embedded hyperlinks to expand upon the physiological concepts associated with the question.

Quiz Questions Linked to Tutorial

At the end of the tutorial, there is a link to an external website ( that has multiple choice and true/false questions that are associated with the tutorial. When the quiz results are given to the user after taking the quiz, links are provided back to specific pages to assist learning. Users will need to register (free) on the site to access the quiz questions for the tutorial. No personal information is available to other than the user provided login name and analysis of user performance on the quiz questions. This feedback will improve content and quiz questions.


  1. Describe the anatomy of the heart, including cardiac chambers and valves, and the great vessels entering and leaving the heart.
  2. What determines cardiac output and how is it measured?
  3. What are the seven phases of the cardiac cycle and how is each phase related temporally to the electrocardiogram?
  4. What changes occur in ventricular and atrial pressures, ventricular volume, and aortic pressure and flow during the cardiac cycle?
  5. Why is the pressure gradient across a valve normally very low (just a few mmHg)?
  6. When during the cardiac cycle are the first (S1), second (S2), third (S3) and fourth (S4) heart sounds heard, and what causes these sounds?
  7. What are ventricular pressure-volume loops and how are they generated?
  8. What is preload on a cardiac chamber, and what determines preload?
  9. What is the length-tension relationship for cardiac muscle and how do changes in preload affect this relationship?
  10. Explain using Frank-Starling curves and ventricular pressure-volume loops how changes in preload affect ventricular stroke volume.
  11. What is the afterload on the left ventricle, and what determines the afterload?
  12. Explain using force-velocity curves how changes in afterload affect ventricular stroke volume.
  13. How do changes in afterload affect Frank-Starling curves and ventricular pressure-volume loops?
  14. What is inotropy and what factors regulate inotropy?
  15. How do changes in inotropy affect the length-tension relationship, Frank-Starling curves and ventricular pressure-volume loops?
  16. Describe the interdependent effects of changes in preload, afterload and inotropy on left ventricular pressure-volume loops.
  17. What is the structure and function of actin, myosin and regulatory proteins within the cardiac muscle sarcomere?
  18. What is the process of excitation-contraction coupling in cardiac muscle and at what sites in the cell is this process regulated?
  19. What are the major signal transduction mechanisms involved in regulating inotropy?
  20. What are the primary adrenergic and cholinergic receptors that regulate cardiac function?

Link to Quiz Questions:

Revised 01/31/2023

DISCLAIMER: These materials are for educational purposes only, and are not a source of medical decision-making advice.