Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 267834, 12 pages
Research Article

Simulation of the Frank-Starling Law of the Heart

Institute of Pathophysiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, 1104 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Received 22 June 2012; Revised 19 September 2012; Accepted 24 September 2012

Academic Editor: Gangmin Ning

Copyright © 2012 Samo Ribarič and Marjan Kordaš. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We developed a lumped parameter, computer-based model of an equivalent electronic circuit for a one-atrium one-ventricle (frog) heart attached to a vascular circuit, to simulate a basic concept of cardiovascular physiology, the Frank-Starling Law of the Heart. A series of simulations was performed, to observe changes in cardiovascular variables (e.g., arterial pressure, ventricular volume, and valve flows) if either preload or afterload was increased. The simulated data agreed qualitatively, and quantitatively when experimental data are available, with data obtained on amphibian or on mammalian myocardium. In addition, the data obtained in these simulations improve our understanding of the mechanism(s) whereby the heart muscle adapts itself to increased distension (increased preload) or to impeded systolic contraction (increased afterload). The analysis of the measured valve flows suggests that the ventricle is a highly input sensitive pump because the input pressure determines the diastolic distension and, consequently, the force of ventricular systolic contraction. On the other hand, the ventricle is a relatively output insensitive pump. Therefore, not only atrium contraction, but also predominantly the preceding ventricular systolic contraction is the main mechanism of the subsequent diastolic ventricular filling. We conclude that the presented model enables the study of basic concepts of cardiovascular physiology.