Ventilatory and arterial blood gas tension adjustments to strenuous exercise in Standardbreds

Tatiana Art From the Equine Sports Medicine Unit, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liege, Bat B42, Sart Tilman, B-4000 Liege, Belgium.

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P. Lekeux From the Equine Sports Medicine Unit, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liege, Bat B42, Sart Tilman, B-4000 Liege, Belgium.

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SUMMARY

Five healthy, fit Standardbreds (mean ± sem, 490.4 ± 15.0 kg, 4.0 ± 0.5 years) were studied during a standardized test carried out on a treadmill. The test consisted of an 8-minute warm-up and a 9-minute exercise period (1 minute at 1.7, 4, 7, 8, 9, and 10 m/s; 2 minutes at 4 m/s; and a 1-minute walk at a 6% slope). Respiratory airflow, tidal volume (Vt), and respiratory frequency (f) were continuously recorded, using 2 ultrasonic pneumotachographs connected to a face mask and mass spectrometer. Oxygen uptake, carbon dioxide output, and expired minute volume (V˙e) were obtained on a breath-by-breath basis. Arterial blood was tested at the end of each step for O2 and CO2 partial pressures. Heart rate was continuously recorded, using a heart rate recording system. Stride frequency was measured at each step, and the stride frequency-to-f ratio was calculated. Venous blood was tested for plasma lactate concentration before and 2 minutes after completion of the test.

Some horses had a locomotion-respiration coupling (lrc), but this coupling was occasional and intermittent. The f was lower and Vt was higher than values reported for Thoroughbreds working under similar experimental conditions. Nevertheless, maximal V˙e did not overshoot maximal V˙e reported in Thoroughbreds. All horses were hypoxemic and hypercapnic, but there was wide variability between subjects. The horses with the highest oxygen uptake and the lowest plasma lactate concentration were more hypoxemic and hypercapnic.

The Standardbreds, studied under our laboratory conditions, did not have constant lrc and had lower f with higher Vt than did Thoroughbreds under similar experimental conditions. Despite these differences in breathing strategy, the Standardbreds did not have higher V˙e than did Thoroughbreds, and they were hypoxemic and hypercapnic. The fact that these Standardbreds, which obviously freely selected their breathing strategy, were unable or unwilling to adopt compensatory hyperventilation reinforces the hypothesis that, in strenuous exercising horses, there could be a physiologic limit to ventilation, most probably related to mechanical factors, but independent of any lrc.

SUMMARY

Five healthy, fit Standardbreds (mean ± sem, 490.4 ± 15.0 kg, 4.0 ± 0.5 years) were studied during a standardized test carried out on a treadmill. The test consisted of an 8-minute warm-up and a 9-minute exercise period (1 minute at 1.7, 4, 7, 8, 9, and 10 m/s; 2 minutes at 4 m/s; and a 1-minute walk at a 6% slope). Respiratory airflow, tidal volume (Vt), and respiratory frequency (f) were continuously recorded, using 2 ultrasonic pneumotachographs connected to a face mask and mass spectrometer. Oxygen uptake, carbon dioxide output, and expired minute volume (V˙e) were obtained on a breath-by-breath basis. Arterial blood was tested at the end of each step for O2 and CO2 partial pressures. Heart rate was continuously recorded, using a heart rate recording system. Stride frequency was measured at each step, and the stride frequency-to-f ratio was calculated. Venous blood was tested for plasma lactate concentration before and 2 minutes after completion of the test.

Some horses had a locomotion-respiration coupling (lrc), but this coupling was occasional and intermittent. The f was lower and Vt was higher than values reported for Thoroughbreds working under similar experimental conditions. Nevertheless, maximal V˙e did not overshoot maximal V˙e reported in Thoroughbreds. All horses were hypoxemic and hypercapnic, but there was wide variability between subjects. The horses with the highest oxygen uptake and the lowest plasma lactate concentration were more hypoxemic and hypercapnic.

The Standardbreds, studied under our laboratory conditions, did not have constant lrc and had lower f with higher Vt than did Thoroughbreds under similar experimental conditions. Despite these differences in breathing strategy, the Standardbreds did not have higher V˙e than did Thoroughbreds, and they were hypoxemic and hypercapnic. The fact that these Standardbreds, which obviously freely selected their breathing strategy, were unable or unwilling to adopt compensatory hyperventilation reinforces the hypothesis that, in strenuous exercising horses, there could be a physiologic limit to ventilation, most probably related to mechanical factors, but independent of any lrc.

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