Author + information
- Received October 16, 1988
- Revision received February 21, 1989
- Accepted March 9, 1989
- Published online August 1, 1989.
- Rebecca J. Quigg, MD,
- Michael B. Rocco, MD,
- Diane F. Gauthier, RN,
- Mark A. Creager, MD, FACC,
- L. Howard Hartley, MD, FACC and
- Wilson S. Colucci, MD, FACC∗
- ↵∗Address for reprints: Wilson S. Colucci, MD, Cardiovascular Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 75 Francis Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.
The mechanism responsible for attenuation of the peak heart rate response to exercise in patients after cardiac transplantation was studied. Because the donor heart is believed to be surgically denervated, the peak heart rate response to exercise is dependent primarily on 1) an increase in the circulating levels of the catecholamines norepinephrine and epinephrine at peak exercise, and 2) the end-organ responsiveness of the sinoatrial (SA) node to beta-adrenergic stimulation. To assess the former mechanism, the levels of plasma nonepinephrine and epinephrine were measured at rest and at peak exercise on a cycle ergometer in 23 transplant recipients an average of 7 ± 1 months after transplantation and in 23 normal subjects matched for age. To assess the latter mechanism, the heart rate response to a graded infusion of isoproterenol was determined in six normal subjects with and without atropine pretreatment and in eight transplant recipients.
In transplant recipients, both the absolute plasma levels of nonepinephrine and epinephrine at peak exercise and the increments from baseline to peak exercise were comparable with or greater than those in normal subjects. In transplant recipients, the isoproterenol dose that increased heart rate by 25 beats/min over baseline was not different from that in atropine-treated normal subjects (normal subjects 9 ± 2 ng/kg per min; transplant recipients 11 ± 1 ng/kg per min; p = NS).
These data show that after cardiac transplantation, there is a normal or slight elevation of circulating catecholamines at peak exercise, and that the responsiveness of the SA node to beta-adrenergic stimulation is normal. Thus, the most likely explanation for the attenuated peak heart rate response to exercise after cardiac transplantation is lack of direct efferent innervation of the SA node.
- Received October 16, 1988.
- Revision received February 21, 1989.
- Accepted March 9, 1989.