Diagnostic utility of sub-maximum cardiopulmonary exercise testing in the ambulatory setting for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction

Pulm Circ. 2020 Nov 25;10(4):2045894020972273. doi: 10.1177/2045894020972273. eCollection Oct-Dec 2020.

Abstract

Pulmonary hypertension is commonly associated with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. In heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, the elevated left-sided filling pressures result in isolated post-capillary pulmonary hypertension or combined pre- and post-capillary pulmonary hypertension. Although right heart catheterization is the gold standard for diagnosis, it is an invasive test with associated risks. The ability of sub-maximum cardiopulmonary exercise test as an adjunct diagnostic tool in pulmonary hypertension-associated heart failure with preserved ejection fraction is not known. Forty-six patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction and pulmonary hypertension (27 patients with combined pre- and post-capillary pulmonary hypertension and 19 patients with isolated post-capillary pulmonary hypertension) underwent sub-maximum cardiopulmonary exercise test followed by right heart catheterization. The study also included 18 age- and gender-matched control subjects. Several sub-maximum gas exchange parameters were examined to determine the ability of sub-maximum cardiopulmonary exercise test to distinguish between isolated post-capillary pulmonary hypertension and combined pre- and post-capillary pulmonary hypertension. Conventional echocardiogram measures did not distinguish between isolated post-capillary pulmonary hypertension and combined pre- and post-capillary pulmonary hypertension. Compared to isolated post-capillary pulmonary hypertension, combined pre- and post-capillary pulmonary hypertension had greater ventilatory equivalent for carbon dioxide (VE/VCO2) slope, reduced delta end-tidal CO2 change during exercise, reduced oxygen uptake efficiency slope, and reduced gas exchange determined pulmonary vascular capacitance. The latter was significantly associated with right heart catheterization determined pulmonary artery compliance (r = 0.5; p = 0.0004). On univariate analysis, sub-maximum VE/VCO2, delta end-tidal carbon dioxide, and gas exchange determined pulmonary vascular capacitance emerged as independent predictors of the extrapolated maximum oxygen uptake (%predicted) (β-coefficient values of -7.32, 95% CI: -13.3 - (-1.32), p = 0.01; 8.01, 95% CI: 1.96-14.05, p = 0.01; 8.78, 95% CI: 2.26-15.29, p = 0.01, respectively). Sub-maximum gas exchange parameters obtained during cardiopulmonary exercise test in an ambulatory setting allows for discrimination between isolated post-capillary pulmonary hypertension and combined pre- and post-capillary pulmonary hypertension. Additionally, sub-maximum cardiopulmonary exercise test derived VE/VCO2, delta end-tidal carbon dioxide, and gas exchange determined pulmonary vascular capacitance influences aerobic capacity in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.

Keywords: cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET); exercise capacity; heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF); pulmonary hypertension.