Cardiac Muscle Mechanics

  • Nicolaas Westerhof
  • Nikolaos Stergiopulos
  • Mark I. M. Noble


The cardiac muscle cells, also called fibers, branch and interdigitate. They are typically 40 μm long and about 10 μm in diameter; the fibers contain fibrils that are built up by the basic contractile units the sarcomeres (Fig. 12.1). Each sarcomere is bounded at the ends by Z-discs about 2 µm apart. The thin actin filaments about 1 µm long, are attached to the Z-discs, and extend towards the center of the sarcomere. They can either meet in the center, when sarcomere length is about 2.0 µm, ­overlap each other when sarcomere length is <2.0 µm, or not quite reach each other when sarcomere length >2.0 µm. Spanning the center of the sarcomere length are the thick myosin filaments, 1.6 µm long, which interdigitate with the thin filaments.


Cardiac Muscle Fiber Length Thin Filament Sarcomere Length Clinical Heart Failure 
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Copyright information

© Springer US 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicolaas Westerhof
    • 1
  • Nikolaos Stergiopulos
    • 2
  • Mark I. M. Noble
    • 3
  1. 1.Departments of Physiology and Pulmonology ICaR-VUVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamthe Netherlands
  2. 2.Laboratory of Hemodynamics and Cardiovascular TechnologySwiss Federal Institute of TechnologyLausanneSwitzerland
  3. 3.Cardiovascular MedicineAberdeen UniversityAberdeenScotland

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