Ventilation-perfusion (VA/Q) inequality has been shown to increase with exercise. Potential mechanisms for this increase include nonuniform pulmonary vasoconstriction, ventilatory time constant inequality, reduced large airway gas mixing, and development of interstitial pulmonary edema. We hypothesized that persistence of VA/Q mismatch after ventilation and cardiac output subside during recovery would be consistent with edema; however, rapid resolution would suggest mechanisms related to changes in ventilation and blood flow per se. Thirteen healthy males performed near-maximal cycle ergometry at an inspiratory PO2 of 91 Torr (because hypoxia accentuates VA/Q mismatch on exercise). Cardiorespiratory variables and inert gas elimination patterns were measured at rest, during exercise, and between 2 and 30 min of recovery. Two profiles of VA/Q distribution behavior emerged during heavy exercise: in group 1 an increase in VA/Q mismatch (log SDQ of 0.35 +/- 0.02 at rest and 0.44 +/- 0.02 at exercise; P less than 0.05, n = 7) and in group 2 no change in VA/Q mismatch (n = 6). There were no differences in anthropometric data, work rate, O2 uptake, or ventilation during heavy exercise between groups. Group 1 demonstrated significantly greater VA/Q inequality, lower vital capacity, and higher forced expiratory flow at 25-75% of forced vital capacity for the first 20 min during recovery than group 2. Cardiac index was higher in group 1 both during heavy exercise and 4 and 6 min postexercise. However, both ventilation and cardiac output returned toward baseline values more rapidly than did VA/Q relationships. Arterial pH was lower in group 1 during exercise and recovery. We conclude that greater VA/Q inequality in group 1 and its persistence during recovery are consistent with the hypothesis that edema occurs and contributes to the increase in VA/Q inequality during exercise. This is supported by observation of greater blood flows and acidosis and, presumably therefore, higher pulmonary vascular pressures in such subjects.
Life Sciences (General)
Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985) (ISSN 8750-7587); 72; 5; 1657-67