JOURNAL ARTICLE

Heart rate response to graded exercise correlates with aerobic and ventilatory capacity in patients with heart failure

Alessandro Vallebona, Guido Gigli, Sandro Orlandi, Giorgio Reggiardo
Clinical Cardiology 2005, 28 (1): 25-9
15704528

BACKGROUND: Autonomic dysfunction and reduced exercise tolerance are typical features of patients with congestive heart failure (CHF). Baro-chemoreflex balance and organ response may have a common role in conditioning exercise tolerance, ventilation, and chronotropic competence in patients with CHF.

HYPOTHESIS: We tested the hypothesis that there is a relationship between functional capacity and chronotropic competence to exercise in CHF.

METHODS: In all, 48 stable outpatients with CHF (age 65 +/- 10 years, 41 men, NYHA class 2.1 +/- 0, ejection fraction 31 +/- 7%, peak VO2 16 +/- 4 ml/kg/min) performed cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPX). Heart rate (HR) response to exercise was assessed by the chronotropic index (CRI). The CRI was calculated by the following formula: CRI = peak HR - rest HR/220 - age - rest HR x 100 (normal value > 80%). The relationship of CRI to peak oxygen consumption (VO2) and ventilation/carbon dioxide production (VE/VCO2) ratio was examined. A group of 33 healthy controls underwent CPX as well.

RESULTS: The CRI correlated directly with peak VO2 (r = 0.638, p < 0.001) and inversely with VE/VCO2 (r = -0.492, p < 0.001) in patients with CHF. A CRI < 78% identified patients with CHF and a peak VO2 < 20 ml/kg/min, area under the receiver operating curve (AUROC): 0.76, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.60-0.92. A CRI < 74% predicted exercise hyperventilation in CHF (AUROC: 0.71 for VE/VCO2 > 30, 95% CI 0.53-0.88). The CRI was not significantly related either to peak VO2 or to VE/VCO2 in the control group.

CONCLUSIONS: In patients with mild to moderate CHF, CRI correlates with functional capacity. This relationship adds new data on pathophysiologic grounds and supports the routine incorporation of CRI into CPX interpretation.

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