Altered exercise gas exchange and cardiac function in patients with mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


PubMedID: 8449062

Carter R, Nicotra B, Blevins W, Holiday D. Altered exercise gas exchange and cardiac function in patients with mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Chest. 1993;103(3):745-50.
Patients with advanced COPD have significantly reduced gas exchange and pulmonary function; however, little is known regarding physical work capacity and exercise gas exchange in patients with mild COPD. A total of 39 individuals (20 men and 19 women) without evidence of COPD (controls) and 51 individuals (29 men and 22 women) with mild COPD (FEV1 > or = 60 percent of predicted; and ratio of FEV1 over forced vital capacity of 60 to 70 percent) were tested to determine resting pulmonary function and resting and peak exercise gas exchange in response to progressive maximal cycle ergometer testing. In general, those with mild COPD had similar smoking histories and essentially equivalent resting gas exchange studies as compared to the controls. Measured maximal oxygen consumption was less in both the male (p < 0.003) and the female patients (p < 0.001). This was due, in part, to a lower maximal ventilation in the men with obstruction (p < 0.04), resulting from a significant reduction in tidal volume (p < 0.05). Women presented with similar decreases in maximal ventilation (p < 0.04) and maximal tidal volume (p < 0.01), while no difference in maximal respiratory rate was noted in either group (p > 0.05). Breathing reserve was 32 percent and 53 percent less for the male and female patients with obstruction than for controls. Maximal heart rates were less in the individuals with obstruction, where they reached 93 percent (p < 0.02) and 96 percent (p < 0.003) of the age- and sex-specific maximal heart rates for men and women as compared to 101 percent and 99 percent obtained in the controls. Achieved absolute work loads for men and women (in kilogram.meters per minute) were lower in the groups with obstruction (p < 0.002 and 0.0003) as well. These results demonstrate that work capacity and gas exchange are significantly decreased in individuals with even mild COPD. The reduction in functional work capacity is secondary to a loss of pulmonary function, as well as chronic deconditioning. Increased dyspnea may be responsible for the premature cessation of exercise observed in patients with mild COPD. Thus, early intervention with exercise training may be warranted to counter the deleterious effects of deconditioning and declining pulmonary function in patients with mild COPD.