Effect of cold air inhalation and isometric exercise on coronary blood flow and myocardial function in humans

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2011 Dec;111(6):1694-702. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00909.2011. Epub 2011 Sep 22.


The effects of cold air inhalation and isometric exercise on coronary blood flow are currently unknown, despite the fact that both cold air and acute exertion trigger angina in clinical populations. In this study, we used transthoracic Doppler echocardiography to measure coronary blood flow velocity (CBV; left anterior descending coronary artery) and myocardial function during cold air inhalation and handgrip exercise. Ten young healthy subjects underwent the following protocols: 5 min of inhaling cold air (cold air protocol), 5 min of inhaling thermoneutral air (sham protocol), 2 min of isometric handgrip at 30% of maximal voluntary contraction (grip protocol), and 5 min of isometric handgrip at 30% maximal voluntary contraction while breathing cold air (cold + grip protocol). Heart rate, blood pressure, inspired air temperature, CBV, myocardial function (tissue Doppler imaging), O(2) saturation, and pulmonary function were measured. The rate-pressure product (RPP) was used as an index of myocardial O(2) demand, whereas CBV was used as an index of myocardial O(2) supply. Compared with the sham protocol, the cold air protocol caused a significantly higher RPP, but there was a significant reduction in CBV. The cold + grip protocol caused a significantly greater increase in RPP compared with the grip protocol (P = 0.045), but the increase in CBV was significantly less (P = 0.039). However, myocardial function was not impaired during the cold + grip protocol relative to the grip protocol alone. Collectively, these data indicate that there is a supply-demand mismatch in the coronary vascular bed when cold ambient air is breathed during acute exertion but myocardial function is preserved, suggesting an adequate redistribution of blood flow.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cold Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Coronary Circulation / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Inhalation
  • Male
  • Models, Cardiovascular
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Young Adult