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Eur Respir J. 2018 Feb 7;51(2). pii: 1700860. doi: 10.1183/13993003.00860-2017. Print 2018 Feb.

Ventilatory response to exercise in cardiopulmonary disease: the role of chemosensitivity and dead space.

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Dept of Medicine, Division of Respiratory Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.
Université Paris-Sud and Université Paris-Saclay, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France.
Service de Pneumologie, AP-HP, Hôpital Bicêtre, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France.
Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, Calgary, AB, Canada.
These authors contributed equally to this work and are both last authors.
Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Université Paris 06, INSERM, UMRS_1158 Neurophysiologie Respiratoire Expérimentale et Clinique, Paris, France
Service des Explorations Fonctionnelles de la Respiration, de l'Exercice et de la Dyspnée, Dépt "R3S", Pôle PRAGUES, AP-HP, Groupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpêtrière Charles Foix, Paris, France.


The lungs and heart are irrevocably linked in their oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) transport functions. Functional impairment of the lungs often affects heart function and vice versa The steepness with which ventilation (V'E) rises with respect to CO2 production (V'CO2 ) (i.e. the V'E/V'CO2 slope) is a measure of ventilatory efficiency and can be used to identify an abnormal ventilatory response to exercise. The V'E/V'CO2 slope is a prognostic marker in several chronic cardiopulmonary diseases independent of other exercise-related variables such as peak O2 uptake (V'O2 ). The V'E/V'CO2 slope is determined by two factors: 1) the arterial CO2 partial pressure (PaCO2 ) during exercise and 2) the fraction of the tidal volume (VT) that goes to dead space (VD) (i.e. the physiological dead space ratio (VD/VT)). An altered PaCO2 set-point and chemosensitivity are present in many cardiopulmonary diseases, which influence V'E/V'CO2 by affecting PaCO2 Increased ventilation-perfusion heterogeneity, causing inefficient gas exchange, also contributes to the abnormal V'E/V'CO2 observed in cardiopulmonary diseases by increasing VD/VT During cardiopulmonary exercise testing, the PaCO2 during exercise is often not measured and VD/VT is only estimated by taking into account the end-tidal CO2 partial pressure (PETCO2 ); however, PaCO2 is not accurately estimated from PETCO2 in patients with cardiopulmonary disease. Measuring arterial gases (PaO2 and PaCO2 ) before and during exercise provides information on the real (and not "estimated") VD/VT coupled with a true measure of gas exchange efficiency such as the difference between alveolar and arterial O2 partial pressure and the difference between arterial and end-tidal CO2 partial pressure during exercise.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of interest: None declared.

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