Preload is defined as the degree of myocardial distension prior to contraction, and is therefore related to sarcomere length. The force of myocyte contraction depends on the length to which they are stretched; however, since this length cannot be determined in the intact heart, other indices of preload are used in clinical practice, such as ventricular end-diastolic volume or pressure.
Factors that can increase preload include:
Factors that can decrease preload include:
When preload increases, there is an increase in end-diastolic volume and an increase in stroke volume.