It is not known whether the contribution of the muscle metaboreflex to the cardiovascular response to isometric exercise varies between different muscles in patients with CHF (chronic heart failure) or whether this depends upon muscle fibre type and training status. To resolve these issues BP (blood pressure) and HR (heart rate) responses were recorded in seven stable CHF patients (ejection fraction 30–40%; age 67±3 years) and in six healthy AMA (age-matched active) subjects. The experimental protocol consisted of 2 min of ischaemic isometric exercise at 30% maximum voluntary force, performed in separate trials by the calf plantar flexors (CALF) and handgrip muscles (FOREARM). To isolate the muscle metaboreflex a subsequent period of PECO (post-exercise circulatory occlusion) was performed following exercise. FOREARM and CALF produced similar increases in BP in both the AMA subjects and CHF patients. CHF patients elicited a significantly lower diastolic BP during PECO following CALF in comparison with that following FOREARM (5±5 compared with 12±3 mmHg respectively). A similar result was seen in AMA subjects. It may be that even the limited weight-bearing locomotor role of the calf muscles constitutes a conditioning stimulus in CHF patients, which leads to desensitization of the muscle metaboreflex, thus producing an attenuated BP elevation. We conclude that it would be incorrect to make general statements about muscle chemoreflex inputs to cardiovascular control in CHF patients based upon measurements made on only one muscle group and without reference to muscle fibre type and training status.

You do not currently have access to this content.