In this study we determined if there are any alterations in carotid sinus baroreceptor discharge in a model of heart failure in the dog. The left carotid sinus was isolated and perfused at 100 mmHg with a modified Krebs‐Henseleit solution. Two groups of dogs were used: a normal group and a group with a chronic aorto‐caval fistula (a.v.f.) of up to 20 weeks duration. The a.v.f. group had a significantly elevated heart rate and left ventricular end diastolic pressure as well as an increased arterial pulse pressure compared to normals. However, mean arterial pressure measured in the aortic arch was not significantly different. Carotid sinus pressure‐discharge curves were constructed during increases in carotid sinus pressure by steps and by ramps of pressure change up to 200 mmHg/s. Carotid sinus diameter was also measured using sonomicrometer crystals. In six dogs from each group the sodium, potassium and water content of the right carotid sinus was measured. Several parameters of second order polynomial curves that were fitted to the data were compared between the two groups for step and ramp increases in pressure. These included maximum baroreceptor gain, threshold pressure and plateau pressure. Baroreceptor gain was significantly lower in the a.v.f. group for the step and lowest ramp rate pressure changes. Threshold pressure was significantly higher for the a.v.f. group for steps and the three slowest ramp rates. Plateau pressures were significantly higher for the steps and lowest ramp rate. The carotid sinus strain that was produced at any given carotid sinus pressure was not significantly different between the two groups. In addition, there was no difference in the sodium, potassium or water content of the carotid sinus between the two groups. It was concluded that there is a depression of the static discharge characteristics in this model of heart failure which is not due to an alteration in electrolyte or water content or to the compliance of the carotid sinus.
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