Physiological dead space and arterial carbon dioxide contributions to exercise ventilatory inefficiency in patients with reduced or preserved ejection fraction heart failure

Erik H Van Iterson, Bruce D Johnson, Barry A Borlaug, Thomas P Olson
European Journal of Heart Failure 2017, 19 (12): 1675-1685

AIMS: Patients with heart failure (HF) with reduced (HFrEF) or preserved (HFpEF) ejection fraction demonstrate an increased ventilatory equivalent for carbon dioxide (V̇E /V̇CO2 ) slope. The physiological correlates of the V̇E /V̇CO2 slope remain unclear in the two HF phenotypes. We hypothesized that changes in the physiological dead space to tidal volume ratio (VD /VT ) and arterial CO2 tension (PaCO2 ) differentially contribute to the V̇E /V̇CO2 slope in HFrEF vs. HFpEF.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Adults with HFrEF (n = 32) and HFpEF (n = 27) [mean ± standard deviation (SD) left ventricular ejection fraction: 22 ± 7% and 61 ± 9%, respectively; mean ± SD body mass index: 28 ± 4 kg/m2 and 33 ± 6 kg/m2 , respectively; P < 0.01] performed cardiopulmonary exercise testing with breath-by-breath ventilation and gas exchange measurements. PaCO2 was measured via radial arterial catheterization. We calculated the V̇E /V̇CO2 slope via linear regression, and VD /VT  = 1 - [(863 × V̇CO2 )/(V̇E  × PaCO2 )]. Resting VD /VT (0.48 ± 0.08 vs. 0.41 ± 0.11; P = 0.04), but not PaCO2 (38 ± 5 mmHg vs. 40 ± 3 mmHg; P = 0.21) differed between HFrEF and HFpEF. Peak exercise VD /VT (0.39 ± 0.08 vs. 0.32 ± 0.12; P = 0.02) and PaCO2 (33 ± 6 mmHg vs. 38 ± 4 mmHg; P < 0.01) differed between HFrEF and HFpEF. The V̇E /V̇CO2 slope was higher in HFrEF compared with HFpEF (44 ± 11 vs. 35 ± 8; P < 0.01). Variance associated with the V̇E /V̇CO2 slope in HFrEF and HFpEF was explained by peak exercise VD /VT (R2  = 0.30 and R2  = 0.50, respectively) and PaCO2 (R2  = 0.64 and R2  = 0.28, respectively), but the relative contributions of each differed (all P < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: Relationships between the V̇E /V̇CO2 slope and both VD /VT and PaCO2 are robust, but differ between HFpEF and HFrEF. Increasing V̇E /V̇CO2 slope appears to be strongly explained by mechanisms influential in regulating PaCO2 in HFrEF, which contrasts with the strong role of increased VD /VT in HFpEF.

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