Exercise oscillatory ventilation during autonomic blockade in young athletes and healthy controls

Andrew T. Jeklin, Fergus Sully, Darragh Flannery, Matthew T. Naughton, Vaughan G. Macefield, Kris Nilsen, Matthew J. Ellis, André La Gerche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: Exercise oscillatory ventilation (EOV) is a form of periodic breathing that is associated with a poor prognosis in heart failure patients, but little is known about EOV in other populations. We sought to provide insights into the phenomenon of EOV after it was observed in young healthy subjects, including athletes, after the administration of dual autonomic blockade (DAB). Methods: From 29 participants who completed cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) with and without DAB (0.04 mg/kg atropine and 0.2 mg/kg metoprolol), 5 subjects developed EOV (age = 29 ± 5 years; 3/5 were athletes) according to American Heart Association criteria. For each case, we identified 2 non-EOV healthy controls (age = 34.2 ± 8.3; 7/10 were athletes) that were subsequently age- and sex-matched. Results: No participants had EOV during exercise without DAB. The 5 participants (4 male, 1 female) who demonstrated EOV with DAB had lower mean tidal volume (1.7 ± 0.5 L/min vs. 1.8 ± 0.5 L/min; p = 0.04) compared to participants in the non-EOV group and a decrease in peak tidal volume (2.9 ± 0.6 L/min to 2.2 ± 0.7 L/min; p = 0.004) with DAB. There were few other differences in CPET measures between EOV and non-EOV participants, although the PETCO2 tended to be higher in the EOV group (p = 0.07). Conclusion: EOV can be elucidated in young healthy subjects, including athletes, during cardiopulmonary exercise testing, suggesting that it may not be an ominous sign in all populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2499-2507
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Athlete
  • Autonomic blockade
  • Exercise oscillatory ventilation
  • Periodic breathing

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