Carvedilol reduces exercise-induced hyperventilation: A benefit in normoxia and a problem with hypoxia

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Aims: To evaluate whether carvedilol influences exercise hyperventilation and the ventilatory response to hypoxia in heart failure (HF). Methods and results: Fifteen HF patients participated to this double blind, randomised, placebo controlled, cross-over study. Patients were evaluated by quality of life questionnaire, echocardiography, pulmonary function and cardiopulmonary exercise tests (ramp and constant workload) both in normoxia (FiO2 = 21%) and hypoxia (FiO2 = 16%, equivalent to a simulated altitude of 2000 m). Carvedilol improved clinical condition and reduced left ventricle size, but had no effect on lung mechanics. In normoxia during exercise, ventilation was lower, VCO2 unchanged and PaCO2 (constant workload) or PetCO2 (ramp) higher with carvedilol, exercise capacity was unchanged (peak workload 92 ± 22 and 90 ± 22 W for placebo and carvedilol, respectively). Abnormal VE/VCO2 slope was reduced by carvedilol. Hypoxia increased ventilation but less with carvedilol; exercise capacity decreased to 87 ± 21 W (placebo) and to 80 ± 11 W (carvedilol, p <0.01). With hypoxia, carvedilol decreased VE/VCO2 slope. At constant workload exercise with hypoxia, PaO2 decreased to 69 ± 6 mm Hg (placebo) and to 64 ± 5 (carvedilol, p <0.01). Conclusion: Carvedilol reduced hyperventilation possibly by reducing peripheral chemoreflex sensitivity as suggested by PaCO2 increase with normoxia and PaO2 decrease with hypoxia without VCO2 and VD/VT changes. Lessening hyperventilation is beneficial when breathing normally, but detrimental when hyperventilation is needed for exercise at high altitude.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729-735
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Heart Failure
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006


  • Exercise
  • Heart failure
  • Hypoxia
  • Reflex
  • Ventilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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