JOURNAL ARTICLE

Exercise ventilation inefficiency and cardiovascular mortality in heart failure: the critical independent prognostic value of the arterial CO2 partial pressure

Marco Guazzi, Giuseppe Reina, Gabriele Tumminello, Maurizio D Guazzi
European Heart Journal 2005, 26 (5): 472-80
15618042

AIMS: In chronic heart failure (CHF) patients, the ventilation (Ve) needed to eliminate metabolically produced CO(2) during exercise (i.e. the Ve/Vco(2) slope) is a strong prognosticator. Ve/Vco(2) slope determinants are the dead space-tidal volume (Vd/Vt) ratio and the arterial CO(2) partial pressure (Paco(2)). We aimed at defining the respective prognostic role of these two variables.

METHODS AND RESULTS: One hundred and twenty-eight stable CHF patients (average left ventricular ejection fraction 34+/-10%) underwent cardiopulmonary exercise testing and blood gas analysis. The prognostic relevance of the Ve/Vco(2) slope, Vd/Vt, and Paco(2) at peak exercise was evaluated by the Kaplan-Meier approach with log-rank testing and by multivariate Cox regression analysis. During a mean period of 31.3+/-20 months, 24 patients died from cardiac causes. In univariate analysis, predictors of death included the use of anti-aldosterone drugs, low peak Vo(2), peak Ve/Vo(2), peak Paco(2) and high Ve/Vco(2) slope, and peak Vd/Vt. Multivariate analysis identified a low peak Paco(2) (<35 mmHg) as the strongest independent prognostic indicator [hazard ratio 4.65, 95% confidence interval (CI) (1.695-12.751), P=0.003] that primarily accounts for the Ve/Vco(2) slope prognostic power.

CONCLUSION: These findings imply that regulatory mechanisms involved in the tight control of ventilatory command and blood gas tension, rather than lung function abnormalities, play a critical pathophysiological role in the exercise ventilation inefficiency of CHF patients.

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