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Circ Res. 1986 Feb;58(2):281-91.

Regulation of stroke volume during submaximal and maximal upright exercise in normal man.


To characterize the hemodynamic factors that regulate stroke volume during upright exercise in normal man, 24 asymptomatic male volunteers were evaluated by simultaneous right heart catheterization, radionuclide angiography, and expired gas analysis during staged upright bicycle exercise to exhaustion. From rest to peak exercise, oxygen consumption increased from 0.33 to 2.55 liters/min (7.7-fold), cardiac index increased from 3.0 to 9.7 liters/min per m2 (3.2-fold), and arteriovenous oxygen difference increased from 5.8 to 14.1 vol% (2.5-fold). The increase in cardiac index resulted from an increase in heart rate from 73 to 167 beats/min (2.5-fold), and an increase in left ventricular stroke volume index from 41 to 58 ml/m2 (1.4-fold). During low levels of exercise, there was a linear increase in cardiac index due to an increase in both heart rate and stroke volume index; stroke volume index increased as a result of an increase in left ventricular filling pressure and end-diastolic volume index and, to a much smaller extent, a decrease in end-systolic volume index. During high levels of exercise, further increases in cardiac index resulted entirely from an increase in heart rate, since stroke volume index increased no further. Left ventricular end-diastolic volume index decreased despite a linear increase in pulmonary artery wedge pressure; stroke volume index was maintained by a further decrease in end-systolic volume index. The degree to which stroke volume index increased during exercise in individuals correlated with the change in end-diastolic volume index (r = 0.66) but not with the change in end-systolic volume index (r = 0.07). Thus, the mechanism by which left ventricular stroke volume increases during upright exercise in man is dependent upon the changing relationship between heart rate, left ventricular filling, and left ventricular contractility. At low levels of exertion, an increase in left ventricular filling pressure and end-diastolic volume are important determinants of the stroke volume response through the Starling mechanism. At high levels of exertion, the exercise tachycardia is accompanied by a decrease in end-diastolic volume despite a progressive increase in filling pressure, so that stroke volume must be maintained by a decrease in end-systolic volume.

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