Relation of right ventricular ejection fraction to exercise capacity in chronic left ventricular failure

Am J Cardiol. 1984 Sep 1;54(6):596-9. doi: 10.1016/0002-9149(84)90256-x.


Although the left ventricle is traditionally viewed as the heart's main pumping chamber, no correlation has been shown between left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction (EF) at rest and exercise capacity in patients with chronic LV failure. Because vasodilators with venodilating activity increase exercise capacity more than predominant arterial dilators in patients with LV failure, right ventricular (RV) function may relate to exercise capacity in these patients. In 25 patients with chronic LV failure, caused by coronary artery disease in 12 patients and idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy in 13 patients, RVEF and LVEF at rest were measured by radionuclide angiography. Maximal upright bicycle exercise testing was also performed to determine maximal oxygen consumption, which averaged only 13 +/- 4 ml/min/kg. The LVEF at rest was 26 +/- 10% and did not correlate with maximal oxygen consumption (r = 0.08). However, the RVEF was 41 +/- 12% and correlated with maximal oxygen consumption (r = 0.70, p less than 0.001) in the same patients. The correlation was stronger (r = 0.88) in patients with coronary artery disease than in those with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (r = 0.60). Thus, RVEF at rest is more predictive of exercise capacity than LVEF in the same patients with chronic LV failure. These results are consistent with the clinical observation that only venodilating agents increase exercise capacity of patients with chronic LV failure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Output*
  • Cardiomyopathy, Dilated / complications
  • Coronary Disease / complications
  • Exercise Test*
  • Heart Failure / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Failure / etiology
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology*
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Ventricles / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Respiration
  • Stroke Volume*