Exercise intolerance in patients with chronic heart failure: role of impaired nutritive flow to skeletal muscle.
The maximal exercise capacity of patients with chronic heart failure is frequently reduced. To investigate whether this exercise intolerance is caused by inadequate nutritive flow to skeletal muscle, we compared cardiac outputs, leg blood flow, and leg metabolism during maximal bicycle exercise in seven patients with normal maximal oxygen uptake (VO2) (greater than 20 ml/min/kg; group A), eight patients with heart failure and moderately reduced maximal VO2 (15 to 18 ml/min/kg; group B), and eight patients with heart failure and markedly reduced maximal VO2 (less than 14 ml/min/kg; group C). As the severity of exercise intolerance increased from group A to group C there was a progressive decline in cardiac output and leg blood flow at any given workload accompanied by a progressive decline in maximal cardiac output (liters/min) (A, 12.4 +/- 1.0; B, 8.7 +/- 0.9; C, 5.5 +/- 0.7), maximal leg flow (liters/min) (A, 4.0 +/- 0.3; B, 2.6 +/- 0.4; C, 1.4 +/- 0.2), and maximal leg VO2 (ml/min) (A, 564 +/- 49; B, 403 +/- 41; C, 213 +/- 35 ml/min). All patients terminated exercise because of severe leg fatigue. At termination of exercise, all three groups exhibited similar marked levels of leg O2 extraction (%) (A, 80 +/- 2; B, 83 +/- 3; C, 89 +/- 1) and high femoral-arterial lactate gradients (mg/dl) (A, 15.4 +/- 2.6; B, 18.3 +/- 3.5; C, 19.2 +/- 3.6), suggesting that exercise was limited when a critical level of muscle underperfusion was reached. These data suggest that the reduced maximal exercise capacity of patients with chronic heart failure is primarily due to impaired nutritive flow to skeletal muscle and resultant muscular fatigue.
- Copyright © 1984 by American Heart Association