The Interpretation of Standard Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test Indices of Cardiac Function in Chronic Kidney Disease

J. Clin. Med. 2023, 12(23), 7456
Background and Aims: As there is growing interest in the application of cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPX) in chronic kidney disease (CKD), it is important to understand the utility of conventional exercise test parameters in quantifying the cardiopulmonary fitness of patients with CKD. Merely extrapolating information from heart failure (HF) patients would not suffice. In the present study, we evaluated the utility of CPX parameters such as the peak O2-pulse and the estimated stroke volume (SV) in assessing the peak SV by comparing with the actual measured values. Furthermore, we compared the anaerobic threshold (AT), peak circulatory power, and ventilatory power with that of the measured values of the peak cardiac power (CPOpeak) in representing the cardiac functional reserve in CKD. We also performed such analyses in patients with HF for comparison.
Method: A cross sectional study of 70 asymptomatic male CKD patients [CKD stages 2–5 (pre-dialysis)] without primary cardiac disease or diabetes mellitus and 25 HF patients. A specialized CPX with a CO2 rebreathing technique was utilized to measure the peak cardiac output and peak cardiac power output. The peak O2 consumption (VO2peak) and AT were also measured during the test. Parameters such as the O2-pulse, stroke volume, arteriovenous difference in O2 concentration [C(a-v)O2], peak circulatory power, and peak ventilatory power were all calculated. Pearson’s correlation, univariate, and multivariate analyses were applied.
Results: Whereas there was a strong correlation between the peak O2-pulse and measured peak SV in HF, the correlation was less robust in CKD. Similarly, the correlation between the estimated SV and the measured SV was less robust in CKD compared to HF. The AT only showed a modest correlation with the CPOpeak in HF and only a weak correlation in CKD. A stronger correlation was demonstrated between the peak circulatory power and CPOpeak, and the ventilatory power and CPOpeak. In HF, the central cardiac factor was the predominant determinant of the standard CPX-derived surrogate indices of cardiac performance. By contrast, in CKD both central and peripheral factors played an equally important role, making such indices less reliable markers of cardiac performance per se in CKD.
Conclusion: The results highlight that the standard CPX-derived surrogate markers of cardiac performance may be less reliable in CKD, and that further prospective studies comparing such surrogate markers with directly measured cardiac hemodynamics are required before adopting such markers into clinical practice or research in CKD.