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Circulation. 2007 May 8;115(18):2410-7. Epub 2007 Apr 23.

Development of a ventilatory classification system in patients with heart failure.

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  • 1Department of Physical Therapy, Box 980224, Virginia Commonwealth University, Health Sciences Campus, Richmond, VA 23298-0224, USA. raarena@vcu.edu



Ventilatory efficiency, commonly assessed by the minute ventilation (VE)-carbon dioxide production (VCO2) slope, is a powerful prognostic marker in the heart failure population. The purpose of the present study is to refine the prognostic power of the VE/VCO2 slope by developing a ventilatory class system that correlates VE/VCO2 cut points to cardiac-related events.


Four hundred forty-eight subjects diagnosed with heart failure were included in this analysis. The VE/VCO2 slope was determined via cardiopulmonary exercise testing. Subjects were tracked for major cardiac events (mortality, transplantation, or left ventricular assist device implantation) for 2 years after cardiopulmonary exercise testing. There were 81 cardiac-related events (64 deaths, 10 heart transplants, and 7 left ventricular assist device implantations) during the 2-year tracking period. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis revealed the overall VE/VCO2 slope classification scheme was significant (area under the curve: 0.78 [95% CI, 0.73 to 0.83], P<0.001). On the basis of test sensitivity and specificity, the following ventilatory class system was developed: (1) ventilatory class (VC) I: < or = 29; (2) VC II: 30.0 to 35.9; (3) VC III: 36.0 to 44.9; and (4) VC IV: > or = 45.0. The numbers of subjects in VCs I through IV were 144, 149, 112, and 43, respectively. Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed event-free survival for subjects in VC I, II, III, and IV was 97.2%, 85.2%, 72.3%, and 44.2%, respectively (log-rank 86.8; P<0.001).


A multiple-level classificatory system based on exercise VE/VCO2 slope stratifies the burden of risk for the entire spectrum of heart failure severity. Application of this classification is therefore proposed to improve clinical decision making in heart failure.

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