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Exercise capacity is not impaired after acute alcohol ingestion: a pilot study

Popovic, Dejana; Damjanovic, Svetozar S.; Plecas-Solarovic, Bosiljka; Pešić, Vesna; Stojiljkovic, Stanimir; Banovic, Marko; Ristic, Arsen; Mantegazza, Valentina; Agostoni, Piergiuseppe

Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine: December 2016 - Volume 17 - Issue 12 - p 896–901
doi: 10.2459/JCM.0000000000000151
Original articles

The usage of alcohol is widespread, but the effects of acute alcohol ingestion on exercise performance and the stress hormone axis are not fully elucidated.

We studied 10 healthy white men, nonhabitual drinkers, by Doppler echocardiography at rest, spirometry, and maximal cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) in two visits (2–4 days in between), one after administration of 1.5 g/kg ethanol (whisky) diluted at 15% in water, and the other after administration of an equivalent volume of water. Plasma levels of NT-pro-BNP, cortisol, and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) were also measured 10 min before the test, at maximal effort and at the third minute of recovery. Ethanol concentration was measured from resting blood samples by gas chromatography and it increased from 0.00 ± 0.00 to 1.25 ± 0.54‰ (P < 0.001). Basal echocardiographic and spirometric parameters were normal and remained so after acute alcohol intake, whereas ACTH, cortisol, and NT-pro-BNP nonsignificantly increased in all phases of the test. CPET data suggested a trend toward a slight reduction of exercise performance (peak VO2 = 3008 ± 638 vs. 2900 ± 543 ml/min, ns; peak workload = 269 ± 53 vs. 249 ± 40 W, ns; test duration 13.7 ± 2.2 vs. 13.3 ± 1.7 min, ns; VE/VCO2 22.1 ± 1.4 vs. 23.3 ± 2.9, ns). Ventilatory equivalent for carbon dioxide at rest was higher after alcohol intake (28 ± 2.5 vs. 30.4 ± 3.2, P = 0.039) and maximal respiratory exchange ratio was lower after alcohol intake (1.17 ± 0.02 vs. 1.14 ± 0.04, P = 0.04). In conclusion, we showed that acute alcohol intake in healthy white men is associated with a nonsignificant exercise performance reduction and stress hormone stimulation, with an unchanged exercise metabolism.

aDivision of Cardiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade, Visegradska 26

bDivision of Endocrinology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade, Dr Subotica 13

cFaculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade, Vojvode Stepe 450

dFaculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Belgrade, Blagoja Parovica 156, Belgrade, Serbia

eCentro Cardiologico Monzino, IRCCS

fDepartment of Clinical Sciences and Community Health – Cardiovascular Section, University of Milan, Milano, Italy

Correspondence to Piergiuseppe Agostoni, MD, PhD, Centro Cardiologico Monzino, IRCCS, Via Parea 4, 20138 Milan, Italy E-mail:

Received 5 February, 2014

Revised 19 April, 2014

Accepted 30 April, 2014

© 2016 Italian Federation of Cardiology. All rights reserved.