THE mechanisms of adaptation of the left ventricle to the demands of muscular exercise have intrigued cardiovascular physiologists for many years. Although highly complex, these adaptive mechanisms are more and more susceptible to analysis and quantification. In this presentation I will attempt to identify some of the individual factors which appear to be important in the response of the left ventricle to exercise, beginning with data obtained from experiments on conscious normal male subjects and proceeding to experiments performed on dog preparations in which individual factors were controlled and analyzed.
The changes in oxygen intake, cardiac output, estimated arteriovenous oxygen difference, pulse rate and estimated mean stroke volume were determined in 15 normal male subjects during rest in the standing position and during treadmill exercise at the maximal oxygen intake level. Oxygen intake was obtained from the volume and composition of expired air, cardiac output by the dye dilution technique, and pulse rate from the electrocardiogram. Estimated arteriovenous oxygen difference was obtained by dividing the oxygen intake by the cardiac output (Fick principle) and estimated mean stroke volume by dividing the cardiac output by the heart rate. The data are shown in Figure 1. Oxygen intake increased from a mean value of 0.34 at rest to a maximal value of 3.22 L./min. The corresponding mean values for cardiac output were 5.4 and 23.4 L./min. and for arteriovenous oxygen difference were 6.5 and 14.3 ml./100 ml. Thus, as oxygen intake increased 9.5 times, the cardiac output increased 4.3 times and the arterio venous oxygen difference 2.2 times.