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A Simplified Approach for the Estimation of the Ventilatory Compensation Point


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: April 2012 - Volume 44 - Issue 4 - p 716–724
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318237fb5f
Applied Sciences

Incremental cardiopulmonary exercise test with gas exchange measurement is the gold standard for the identification of the ventilatory compensation point (VCP). It has previously been demonstrated that the change in the slope of increment of minute ventilation over HR (ΔV˙E/ΔHR) can be used alternatively to the ventilatory equivalent for CO2 (V˙E/V˙CO2) method for detection of VCP in healthy subjects undergoing cycle ergometer (C) incremental exercise. The same evaluation during treadmill (T) incremental exercise and comparison between C and T have not yet been performed.

Purpose We analyzed, during both C and T incremental exercises, the V˙E/HR and the respiratory rate (RR)/HR relationships, expressed either as slope or as an absolute value. We hypothesized that changes in the slope of increment of the two relationships could represent a reliable method for VCP detection, regardless of exercise mode and protocol.

Methods Fourteen healthy male subjects (age = 31 ± 7 yr (mean ± SD)) underwent two T incremental exercises—fast (FT) and slow (ST) protocols (8 km·h−1, 2% (FT) and 1% (ST) grade per minute)—and one C incremental exercise (30 W·min−1). O2 uptake (V˙O2), V˙CO2, V˙E, HR, and RR were measured breath by breath.

Results A good between-method agreement in the detection of VCP by the ΔV˙E/ΔV˙CO2, ΔV˙E/ΔHR, and the ΔRR/ΔHR slope changes was found in both T protocols and C. No differences (C vs T and FT vs ST) were found in the slope of the ΔV˙E/ΔHR and ΔRR/ΔHR relationships after the VCP and in the V˙E/HR and RR/HR absolute values at VCP.

Conclusions In healthy young males, the ΔV˙E/ΔHR and ΔRR/ΔHR relationships during T and C incremental exercises can be reliably used to detect the VCP as an alternative to the ventilatory equivalent method.

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1Laboratory of Respiratory Pathophysiology, Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, ITALY; 2Laboratory of Respiratory Pathophysiology, Research Team ER10, University of Paris 6, Pierre and Marie Curie Faculty of Medicine (site Pitié-Salpêtrière), Paris, FRANCE; 3Service of Pneumology and Intensive Care, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital Group, Paris, FRANCE; and 4Eleonora Spencer Lorillard Cenci Foundation, Rome, ITALY

Address for correspondence: Paolo Onorati, M.D., Laboratory of Respiratory Pathophysiology, Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, Viale dell’Università 37, 00185 Rome, Italy; E-mail:

Submitted for publication May 2011.

Accepted for publication September 2011.

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©2012The American College of Sports Medicine