Characteristics of patients with a relatively greater minimum VE/VCO against peak VO% and impaired exercise tolerance.

Eur J Appl Physiol 2018 Aug 14;118(8):1547-1553. Epub 2018 May 14.

Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Cardiology, Gunma Prefectural Cardiovascular Center, 3-12, Kamezumi, Maebashi, Gunma, 3710004, Japan.

Purpose: Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPX) is used to evaluate functional capacity and assess prognosis in cardiac patients. Ventilatory efficiency (VE/VCO) reflects ventilation-perfusion mismatch; the minimum VE/VCO value (minVE/VCO) is representative of pulmonary arterial blood flow in individuals without pulmonary disease. Usually, minVE/VCO has a strong relationship with the peak oxygen uptake (VO), but dissociation can occur. Therefore, we investigated the relationship between minVE/VCO and predicted peak VO (peak VO%) and evaluated the parameters associated with a discrepancy between these two parameters.

Methods: A total of 289 Japanese patients underwent CPX using a cycle ergometer with ramp protocols between 2013 and 2014. Among these, 174 patients with a peak VO% lower than 70% were enrolled. Patients were divided into groups based on their minVE/VCO [Low group: minVE/VCO < mean - SD (38.8-5.6); High group: minVE/VCO > mean + SD (38.8 + 5.6)]. The characteristics and cardiac function at rest, evaluated using echocardiography, were compared between groups.

Results: The High group had a significantly lower ejection fraction, stroke volume, and cardiac output, and higher brain natriuretic peptide, tricuspid regurgitation pressure gradient, right ventricular systolic pressure, and peak early diastolic LV filling velocity/peak atrial filling velocity ratio compared with the Low group (p's < 0.01). In addition, the Low group had a significantly higher prevalence of pleural effusion than did the High group (26 vs 11%, p < 0.01).

Conclusions: Patients with a relatively greater minVE/VCO in comparison with peak VO had impaired cardiac output as well as restricted pulmonary blood flow increase during exercise, partly due to accumulated pleural effusion.

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