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Starling's Law of the heart

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The Frank-Starling law is named after two prominent 19 th century physiologists.

The Frank-Starling law states that, within physiological limits, the heart pumps all the blood that returns to it without undue damming of blood in the veins.

Intrinsic regulatory mechanisms permit adaption of the heart to rates of venous return which may vary from 2 litres per minute at rest to 25 litres per minute during exercise.

Intrinsic regulation depends on the fact that stretching cardiac muscle results in a greater force of contraction. Thus, increased venous return stretches the heart and causes increased force of contraction (and a moderate increase in heart rate), resulting in a corresponding increase in cardiac output.