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Faster oxygen uptake, heart rate, and ventilatory kinetics in stepping compared with cycle ergometry in patients with COPD during moderate-intensity exercise

Müller, Paulo de Tarso, Nogueira, João Henrique Zardetti, Augusto, Tiago Rodrigues de Lemos, Chiappa, Gaspar Rogério
Applied physiology, nutrition and metabolism 2019 v.44 no.8 pp. 879-885
cardiac output, cost effectiveness, exercise, gas exchange, heart rate, legs, lung function, mechanoreceptors, metabolism, muscles, oxygen, patients, regression analysis, respiratory tract diseases
Step tests are a stressful and feasible cost-effective modality to evaluate aerobic performance. However, the eccentric in addition to concentric muscle contractions of the legs on stepping emerge as a potential speeding factor for cardioventilatory and metabolic adjustments towards a steady-state, since eccentric contractions would prompt an earlier and stronger mechanoreceptor activation, as well as higher heart rate/cardiac output adjustments to the same metabolic demand. Moreover, shorter tests are ideal for exercise-limited subjects. Nine subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were invited to participate in comprehensive lung function tests and constant work tests performed on different days at a 90% gas exchange threshold for 6 min, in single-step tests or cycle ergometry. After careful monoexponential regression modelling, statistically relevant faster phase II time constants for oxygen uptake (45 ± 18 s vs 53 ± 17 s, p = 0.017) and minute ventilation (61 ± 13 s vs 74 ± 17 s, p = 0.027) were observed in the 6-min step tests compared with cycle ergometry, respectively. Despite an absence of heart rate time constant difference (43 ± 20 s vs 69 ± 46 s, p = 0.167), there was a significantly faster rate constant toward a steady state for heart rate (p = 0.02). In addition, 4-min compared with 6-min analysis presented similar results (p > 0.05), providing an appropriate steady-state. We conclude that step tests might elicit faster time constants compared with cycle ergometry, at the same average metabolic level, and 4-min analysis has similar mean errors compared with 6-min analysis within an acceptable range. New studies, comprising mechanisms and detailed physiological backgrounds, are necessary.