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Cardiac output during exercise in paraplegic subjects

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The purpose of this study was to measure the cardiac output using the CO2 rebreathing method during submaximal and maximal arm cranking exercise in six male paraplegic subjects with a high level of spinal cord injury (HP). They were compared with eight able bodied subjects (AB) who were not trained in arm exercise. Maximal O2 consumption (\(\dot V\)O2max) was lower in HP (1.1 1·min−1, SD 0.1; 17.5 ml·min·kg, SD 4) than in AB (2.5 1·min−1, SD 0.6; 36.7 ml·min−1·kg, SD 10.7). Maximal cardiac output was similar in the groups (HP, 141·min−1 SD 2.6; AB, 16.81·min−1 SD 4). The same result was obtained for maximal heart rate (f c,max (HP, 175 beats·min−1, SD 18; AB, 187 beats·min, SD 16) and the maximal stroke volume (HP, 82 ml, SD 13; AB, 91 ml, SD 27). The slopes of the relationshipf c/\(\dot V\)O2 were higher in HP than AB (P<0.025) but when expressed as a %\(\dot V\)O2max there were no differences. The results suggests a major alteration of oxygen transport capacity to active muscle mass in paraplegics due to changes in vasomotor regulation below the level of the lesion.

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Correspondence to J. L. Jehl.

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Jehl, J.L., Gandmontagne, M., Pastene, G. et al. Cardiac output during exercise in paraplegic subjects. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 62, 256–260 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00571549

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Key words

  • Maximal cardiac output
  • Maximal oxygen consumption
  • Rebreathing CO2
  • Paraplegics
  • Arm cranking exercise