Cardiovascular response to exercise in diabetic patients: influence of autonomic neuropathy of different severity

Diabetologia. 1995 Feb;38(2):244-50. doi: 10.1007/BF00400101.


We investigated cardiovascular function and plasma catecholamine response during incremental exercise and recovery in diabetic patients with (DAN+) and without autonomic neuropathy (DAN-). The former group was divided according to the presence of parasympathetic (DAN+PH-) or associated parasympathetic and sympathetic (DAN+PH+) damage to the autonomic nervous system. A group of healthy volunteers was studied as a control group. All the patients and control subjects underwent a submaximal or symptom-limited incremental exercise test using a cycle-ergometer. Air flow and respiratory gas fractions were sampled at the level of the mouth allowing a breath-by-breath analysis of oxygen consumption (VO2). Heart rate and systolic blood pressure were recorded and venous blood samples were obtained from the patients at rest and during each minute of exercise and recovery to measure norepinephrine and epinephrine plasma levels. Haemodynamic parameters and plasma catecholamines were computed at rest and at 25, 50, 75 and 100% of the peak VO2 (VO2max). The breath-by-breath relationships among VO2, heart rate and VO2/heart rate against work were assessed during exercise for patients and control subjects. While VO2max in absolute values was not significantly different among the diabetic groups, VO2 max was much less in diabetic patients than in control subjects (p < 0.01). During exercise the rate of heart rate, systolic blood pressure, norepinephrine and epinephrine increase was different among the diabetic groups, being significantly blunted in DAN+PH+. The VO2/work relationship of the three diabetic groups was similar but markedly reduced in respect to that of control subjects (p < 0.001).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology*
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Hemodynamics / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Exertion / physiology


  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine