Tissue-Doppler echocardiography (TDE) has been introduced to quantify stress echocardiography by means of assessing the left ventricular (LV) segmental myocardial velocities and excursion. The interaction between LV long- and short-axis function during physical exercise has not been elucidated completely. The aim of the present study was to investigate long- and short-axis LV function, as assessed by myocardial velocities and excursions at rest and during exercise and its possible relationship with heart rate in healthy elderly individuals by TDE. Twenty-seven individuals underwent an exercise test in the supine position on a bicycle ergometer. The initial workload was 30 Watts, followed by 20-Watt increments every third minute. Standard echocardiographic images with super-imposed colour TDE were digitized at the end of each step. The following variables were studied in the LV long- and short-axis: myocardial peak systolic velocity (PSV) and excursion, isovolumic contraction and relaxation times, peak velocity at early diastole (E´-wave) and peak velocity at late diastole (A´-wave) and the E´/A´ ratio. Increments in myocardial peak systolic velocity and excursion in the LV long-axis were more pronounced during low workloads. The increase in those variables in the short-axis occurred mainly at higher exercise loads. The improvement in LV long- and short-axis functions was closely related to the increase in the heart rate. Shortening of the isovolumic contraction and relaxation times occurred only at the initial stages of exercise. An increase in the long-axis E´/A´ ratio occurred during exercise, whereas this ratio was unchanged in the short-axis. In conclusion, during exercise, the LV long- and short-axis functions behave differently, and increases in LV long- and short-axis functions are related to changes in heart rate. Therefore, in the interpretation of echocardiographic findings during exercise stress echocardiography, these facts have to be taken into account.

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