Assessment of the effects of physical training in patients with chronic heart failure: the utility of effort-independent exercise variables
Peak oxygen uptake (pVo2) is an important parameter in assessing the functional capacity and prognosis of patients with heart failure. In heart failure trials, change in pVo2 was often used to assess the effectiveness of an intervention. However, the within-subject variability of pVo2 on serial testing may limit its usefulness. This study was designed to evaluate the within-subject variability of pVo2 over 2 baseline cardiopulmonary exercise tests. As a substudy of the HF-ACTION trial, 398 subjects (73% men, 27% women; mean age 59 years) with heart failure and left ventricular ejection fraction < or =35% underwent 2 baseline cardiopulmonary exercise tests within 14 days. Mean pVo2 was unchanged from test 1 to test 2 (15.16 +/- 4.97 vs 15.18 +/- 4.97 ml/kg/min; p = 0.78). However, mean within-subject absolute change was 1.3 ml/kg/min (10th, 90th percentiles 0.1, 3.0), with 46% of subjects increasing and 48% decreasing on the second test. Other parameters, including the ventilation-to-carbon-dioxide production slope and Vo2 at ventilatory threshold, also showed significant within-subject variation with minimal mean differences between tests. In conclusion, pVo2 showed substantial within-subject variability in patients with heart failure and should be taken into account in clinical applications. However, on repeated baseline cardiopulmonary exercise tests, there appears to be no familiarization effect for Vo2 in patients with HF. Therefore, in multicenter trials, there is no need to perform >1 baseline cardiopulmonary exercise test.