Serial Assessment of Peak V̇O2 and V̇O2 Kinetics Early after Heart Transplantation

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BORRELLI, E., S. POGLIAGHI, A. MOLINELLO, F. DICIOLLA, M. MACCHERINI, and B. GRASSI. Serial Assessment of Peak V̇O2 and V̇O2 Kinetics Early after Heart Transplantation. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 35, No. 11, pp. 1798–1804, 2003.PurposeSerial evaluation of aerobic metabolism and exercise tolerance early after heart transplantation (HT).MethodsFifteen heart transplant recipients (HTR), aged 52.0 ± 9.9 yr (mean ± SD), not undergoing structured rehabilitation programs, were tested two to four times during the first 2 yr post-HT. As a reference, a group of 11 healthy untrained controls (C) was utilized. Peak heart rate (peak HR), peak O2 uptake (peak V̇O2), and ventilatory threshold (VT) were determined during incremental bicycle exercise to voluntary exhaustion. V̇O2 kinetics were evaluated during constant-load exercise below VT, with determination of the duration of the “cardiodynamic” component (TD p) and of the time constant of the “primary” component (τp).ResultsPeak V̇O2 (L·min−1) was positively related to months post-HT (y = 1.17 + 0.02x, P = 0.003), and it increased by ∼30% during the investigated period, although values in HTR were lower than in C (2.19 ± 0.24). Peak HR was lower in HTR (136 ± 15 beats·min−1) than in C (168 ± 5), and it was not related to time post-HT. TD p was longer in HTR (31.4 ± 6.3 s) than in C (23.2 ± 6.1), and it was not related to time post-HT. A subgroup of HTR with markedly longer τp during the first months post-HT showed a significant decrease of this parameter as a function of time post-HT.ConclusionsAerobic metabolism is impaired in HTR. Both central (cardiovascular) and peripheral (skeletal muscle) factors contribute to the reduced exercise tolerance. HTR showed, during the first 2 yr post-HT, a significant increase in peak V̇O2 and (in the patients with the slowest V̇O2 kinetics during the first months after HT) a significant improvement of the V̇O2 kinetics. The main gains seem to occur at the peripheral level.

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