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The role of exercise testing in heart failure.

Journal of cardiovascular pharmacology / v.22 suppl.9. 1993, pp.13-17

Author : Swedberg, K ; Gundersen, T

Abstract : The objectives of exercise testing in congestive heart failure (CHF) may be summarized as follows: (a) detect impaired cardiac performance, (b) grade severity of cardiac failure and classify functional capability, and (c) assess effects of interventions. Several different methods are available to make these assessments, and we have to ask ourselves how well exercise testing achieves these objectives. It has to be kept in mind that the power generated by the exercising muscles is dependent on the oxygen delivery to the skeletal muscles. Oxygen uptake is the result of an integrated performance of the lungs, heart, and peripheral circulation. In patients, as well as in normal subjects, oxygen uptake is related to hemodynamic indices such as cardiac output, stroke volume, or exercise duration when a stepwise regulated maximal exercise protocol is used. However, there are major differences in the concept of a true maximum in normal subjects versus heart failure patients. Fit-normal subjects will achieve a real maximal oxygen uptake, whereas patients may stop testing before a maximum is reached because of symptoms such as dyspnea or leg fatigue. Therefore, it is better if the actual oxygen uptake can be measured. Peak rather than true maximal oxygen uptake has been suggested for the classification of the severity of heart failure. Peripheral factors modify the cardiac output through such factors as vascular resistance, organ function, and hormonal release. Maximal exercise will stress the cardiovascular system to a point where the weakest chain will impose a limiting effect.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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