To test the hypothesis that the pericardium limits maximal oxygen consumption by limiting stroke volume and cardiac output, we studied 10 untrained dogs during submaximal and maximal exercise before and after pericardiectomy. Seven additional dogs were studied before and after a sham operation. All dogs were instrumented chronically with aortic and pulmonary artery catheters. Dogs were tested by running on a motor-driven treadmill, 4-6 times before and after pericardiectomy or sham operation. We measured cardiac output (dye dilution), heart rate, and arteriovenous oxygen difference. Oxygen consumption and stroke volume were calculated from these variables. After pericardiectomy, there were significant (P < 0.01) increases in maximal oxygen consumption, maximal cardiac output, and maximal stroke volume. Maximal oxygen consumption decreased significantly in the sham group. There was no change in maximal heart rate following pericardiectomy, or in maximal cardiac output, heart rate, or stroke volume following sham operation. Both groups of dogs experienced similar significant decreases in hematocrit, arterial and venous oxygen contents, and arteriovenous oxygen difference. Neither pericardiectomy nor sham operation had any effect on oxygen consumption during submaximal exercise. However, the sham group had significant increases in cardiac output and heart rate during submaximal exercise, and the pericardiectomy group demonstrated a trend toward an increased cardiac output during submaximal exercise. These results support the hypothesis that the pericardium limits maximal oxygen consumption by limiting stroke volume and cardiac output during maximal exercise in untrained dogs. Further, these findings suggest that maximal oxygen consumption is limited by the oxygen transport capacity of the cardiovascular system, and not by the oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle in the untrained dog.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine