ST-segment changes in the ECG, which are an indication of acute myocardial ischaemia, are obtained when a small quantity of an extract from dried Pachystigma pygmaeum is injected intravenously in sheep. When the fraction was injected subcutaneously, animals reached a crisis after about 5 h, with low values of stroke volumes and high values for pulmonary arterial pressures, pulmonary vascular resistances and heart rates. The haemodynamic changes are an indication of the development of pump failure of the heart. In sheep, injected subcutaneously with the toxic fraction, as well as for sheep dosed with plant material through rumen fistula, increased serum levels for thromboxane and increased or decreased levels for prostacycline were observed. The experimental results are interpreted as being an indication that these prostaglandines may be involved in the development of gousiekte by impeding cardiopulmonary function as a result of coronary and pulmonary vasoconstriction. The sudden death observed in some gousiekte sheep may be due to myocardial ischaemia and associated arrhythmias.
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