1. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of fractional meal stimulation on postprandial haemodynamic changes, the possible correlation between these changes and the potential mediating role of circulating catecholamines and insulin.
2. Healthy young subjects were studied before and after ingestion of isocaloric, isovolumetric high-protein, carbohydrate or fat meals (80–85% of total energy), 60 kJ per kg of body weight. Multigated radionuclide cardiography with autologous 99mTc-labelled erythrocytes was performed for assessment of cardiac output, venous occlusion plethysmography to obtain forearm blood flow and Doppler-ultrasonography for portal vein flow. Plasma levels of catecholamines and insulin were determined by radioimmunoassay.
3. Cardiac output increased considerably after each meal, including the control meal (water) with only minor differences in extent and timing. Left ventricular volumes increased after food intake, most pronounced after carbohydrate and protein. Forearm blood flow increased only after carbohydrate and protein. Portal vein flow increased after all meals, especially after fat, but also after the control meal. There was a significant correlation between the increment in cardiac output and changes in forearm and portal vein flow, but no correlation between either haemodynamic response and plasma catecholamines or insulin.
4. Postprandial cardiovascular changes are not substantially different after various isocaloric and isovolumic meal compositions. Gastric distension seems to play a role in the increase in cardiac output, accomplished by ventricular dilatation. These changes seem to some extent to be linked to changes in muscle and splanchnic flow.