Haemodynamic response to exercise in healthy young and elderly subjects

H J Bogaard, H H Woltjer, B M Dekker, A R van Keimpema, P E Postmus, P M de Vries

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Whereas with advancing age, peak heart rate (HR) and cardiac index (CI) are clearly reduced, peak stroke index (SI) may decrease, remain constant or even increase. The aim of this study was to describe the patterns of HR, SI, CI, arteriovenous difference in oxygen concentration (Ca-vO2), mean arterial pressure (MAP), systemic vascular resistance index (SVRI), stroke work index (SWI) and mean systolic ejection rate index (MSERI) in two age groups (A: 20-30 years, n = 20; B: 50-60 years n = 20). After determination of pulmonary function, an incremental bicycle exercise test was performed, with standard, gas-exchange measurements and SI assessment using electrical impedance cardiography. The following age-related changes were found: similar submaximal HR response to exercise in both groups and a higher peak HR in A than in B[185 (SD 9) vs 167 (SD 14) beats.min-1, P < 0.0005]; increase in SI with exercise up to 60-90 W and subsequent stabilization in both groups. As SI decreased towards the end of exercise in B, a higher peak SI was found in A [57.5 (SD 14.0) vs 43.6 (SD 7.7) ml.m-2, P < 0.0005]; similar submaximal CI response-to exercise, higher peak CI in A [10.6 (SD 2.5) vs 7.2 (SD 1.3) 1.min-1.m-2, P < 0.0005]; no differences in Ca-vO2 during exercise; higher MAP at all levels of exercise in B; higher SVRI at all levels of exercise in B; lower SWI in B after recovery; higher MSERI at all levels of exercise in A. The decrease in SI with advancing age would seem to be related to a decrease in myocardial contractility, which can no longer be compensated for by an increase in preload (as during submaximal exercise). Increases in systemic blood pressure may also compromise ventricular function but would seem to be of minor importance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-42
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Adolescent
  • Aging/physiology
  • Blood Pressure/physiology
  • Cardiac Output/physiology
  • Cardiography, Impedance
  • Exercise/physiology
  • Heart Rate/physiology
  • Hemodynamics/physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stroke Volume/physiology
  • Vascular Resistance/physiology

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