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The hemodynamic effects of 2 plasma volume expanders were compared in postoperative open heart surgery patients. Albumin 5% (A) or hydroxyethyl starch 6% (HES) solutions were infused according to indications based on cardiac index (CI) and pulmonary wedge pressure (WP), and their effects evaluated by physiologic profile measurements.Both groups demonstrated significant increases with volume infusion in CI (A from 2.37 to 2.84; HES from 1.97 to 2.49 L/min-m2) and WP (A from 9.4 to 13.7 mm Hg; HES from 11.9 to 13.2 mm Hg). Stroke index and stroke work increased similarly. Mean systemic arterial pressure (MAP) and mean pulmonary arterial pressure (MPAP) remained unchanged. No significant difference for any variable was demonstrated between the A and HES groups. In the volume used, from 250 to 750 ml, HES caused no bleeding abnormalities. HES is as effective as A as a plasma volume expander in postoperative cardiac surgery patients.