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Effect of aging on ventilatory response to exercise and CO2



Effect of aging on ventilatory response to exercise and CO2



Journal of Applied Physiology: Respiratory, Environmental and Exercise Physiology 56(5): 1143-1150



Studies were performed to determine the effects of aging on the ventilatory responsiveness to two known respiratory stimulants, inhaled CO2 and exercise. Although explanation of the physiological mechanisms underlying development of exercise hyperpnea remains elusive, there is much circumstantial evidence that during exercise, however mediated, ventilation is coupled to CO2 production. Thus matched groups of young and elderly subjects were studied to determine the relationship between increasing ventilation and increasing CO2 production (VCO2) during steady-state exercise and the change in their minute ventilation in response to progressive hypercapnia during CO2 rebreathing. We found that the slope of the ventilatory response to hypercapnia was depressed in elderly subjects when compared with the younger control group (delta VE/delta PCO2 = 1.64 +/- 0.21 vs. 2.44 +/- 0.40 l X min-1 X mmHg-1, means +/- SE, respectively). In contrast, the slope of the relationship between ventilation and CO2 production during exercise in the elderly was greater than that of younger subjects (delta VE/delta VCO2 = 29.7 +/- 1.19 vs. 25.3 +/- 1.54, means +/- SE, respectively), as was minute ventilation at a single work load (50 W) (32.4 +/- 2.3 vs. 25.7 +/- 1.54 l/min, means +/- SE, respectively). This increased ventilation during exercise in the elderly was not produced by arterial O2 desaturation, and increased anaerobiasis did not play a role. Instead, the increased ventilation during exercise seems to compensate for increased inefficiency of gas exchange such that exercise remains essentially isocapnic. In conclusion, in the elderly the ventilatory response to hypercapnia is less than in young subjects, whereas the ventilatory response to exercise is greater.

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Accession: 017870579

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 6427148

DOI: 10.1097/00132586-198502000-00001



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