Circulatory adaptation was studied serially in 11 healthy term neonates on days 1, 3, and 5 by cross sectional and pulsed Doppler echocardiography. Changes in the determinants of blood viscosity (packed cell volume, plasma viscosity, red cell aggregation, and red cell deformability) were studied on day 1 and day 5. There was a 27% increase in the cardiac output as a result of increasing stroke volume, whereas heart rate did not change significantly. Mean blood pressure increased by nearly the same extent as cardiac output (21%), so that the overall resistance remained unchanged. Packed cell volume, red cell aggregation, and red cell deformability did not change significantly during the first five postnatal days. Plasma viscosity rose significantly (by 12%) so that whole blood viscosity increased during that period. As there was no change in overall systemic vascular resistance the vascular hindrance--calculated as the ratio of resistance: blood viscosity--decreased, thereby indicating vasodilation.
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