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Control of ventilation during exercise in patients with central venous-to-systemic arterial shunts


The diversion of systemic venous blood into the arterial circulation in patients with intracardiac right-to-left shunts represents a pathophysiological condition in which there are alterations in some of the potential stimuli for the exercise hyperpnea. We therefore studied 18 adult patients with congenital (16) or noncongenital (2) right-to-left shunts and a group of normal control subjects during constant work rate and progressive work rate exercise to assess the effects of these alterations on the dynamics of exercise ventilation and gas exchange. Minute ventilation (VE) was significantly higher in the patients than in the controls, both at rest (10.7 +/- 2.4 vs. 7.5 +/- 1.2 l/min, respectively) and during constant-load exercise (24.9 +/- 4.8 vs. 12.7 +/- 2.61 l/min, respectively). When beginning constant work rate exercise from rest, the ventilatory response of the patients followed a pattern that was distinct from that of the normal subjects. At the onset of exercise, the patients' end-tidal PCO2 decreased, end-tidal PO2 increased, and gas exchange ratio increased, indicating that pulmonary blood was hyperventilated relative to the resting state. However, arterial blood gases, in six patients in which they were measured, revealed that despite the large VE response to exercise, arterial pH and PCO2 were not significantly different from resting values when sampled during the first 2 min of moderate-intensity exercise. Arterial PCO2 changed by an average of only 1.4 Torr after 4.5-6 min of exercise. Thus the exercise-induced alveolar and pulmonary capillary hypocapnia was of an appropriate degree to compensate for the shunting of CO2-rich venous blood into the systemic arterial circulation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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