Ventilatory and heart rate responses to exercise better predictors of heart failure mortality than peak oxygen consumption

Mark Robbins, Gary Francis, Fredric J. Pashkow, Claire E. Snader, Kathy Hoercher, James B. Young, Michael S. Lauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

203 Scopus citations


Background - An abnormally low chronotropic response and an abnormally high ventilatory response (V(E)/V(CO2)) to exercise are common in patients with severe heart failure, but their relative prognostic impacts have not been well explored. Methods and Results - Consecutive patients with heart failure referred for metabolic stress testing who were not taking β-blockers or intravenous inotropes (n=470) were followed for 1.5 years. The chronotropic index was calculated while peak V̇o2 and V̇e/V̇co2 were directly measured. Chronotropic index and peak V̇o2 were considered abnormal if in the lowest 25th percentiles of the patient cohort, whereas V̇/V̇co2 was considered abnormal if in the highest 25th percentile. For comparative purposes, a group of 17 healthy controls underwent metabolic testing as well. Compared with controls, heart failure patients had markedly abnormal ventilatory and chronotropic responses to exercise. In the heart failure cohort, there were 71 deaths. In univariate analyses, predictors of death included high V̇e/V̇co2, low chronotropic index, low V̇o2, low resting systolic blood pressure, and older age. Nonparametric Kaplan-Meier plots demonstrated that by dividing the population according to peak V̇e/V̇co2 and peak V̇o2, it is possible to identify low, intermediate, and very high risk groups. In multivariate analyses, the only independent predictors of death were high V̇e/V̇co2 (adjusted relative risk [RR] 3.20, 95% CI 1.95 to 5.26, P<0.0001) and low chronotropic index (adjusted RR 1.94, 95% CI 1.18 to 3.19, P=0.0009). Conclusions - The ventilatory and chronotropic responses to exercise are powerful and independent predictors of heart failure mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2411-2417
Number of pages7
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 14 1999


  • Exercise
  • Heart failure
  • Heart rate
  • Mortality
  • Ventilation

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