Effects of sympathetic inhibition on exertional dyspnoea, ventilatory and metabolic responses to exercise in normotensive humans

S D Galloway, G De Vito, S McClure, M A Nimmo, J J McMurray

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Augmentation of circulating noradrenaline concentration stimulates ventilation during the initial stages of exercise and this is accompanied by an increased sensation of dyspnoea and exertion. This previous study [Clark, Galloway, MacFarlane, Henderson, Aitchison and McMurray (1997) Eur. Heart J. 18, 1829-1833] suggested a link between dyspnoea, which commonly limits exercise tolerance in heart failure patients, and high circulating noradrenaline concentration in these patients. The present study investigated this relationship further using sympathetic inhibition. Ten healthy normotensive males performed 10 min of submaximal cycling exercise at approx. 70% of maximal oxygen uptake per min (VO2max) on three occasions one week apart. The first of these sessions was a familiarization session and the other two were experimental study days. On each of the study days, subjects attended the laboratory in the morning after an overnight fast and, following a resting blood sample, were administered placebo or moxonidine (0.4 mg) in a double blind cross-over design. After a 90-min absorption period, subjects undertook the exercise task. Blood was drawn, expired gas was analysed breath by breath, blood pressure, heart rate and ratings of perceived dyspnoea and exertion were obtained. Moxonidine treatment significantly reduced plasma noradrenaline concentration (P < 0.01), mean arterial pressure (P < 0.01), and blood glycerol concentration (P < 0.05), but no differences were observed in heart rate, the ventilatory response to exercise or subjective ratings of dyspnoea and exertion. This study indicates that reducing sympathetic activity does not affect ventilation, perceived dyspnoea or perceived exertion in normotensive males. Therefore it can be concluded that reducing sympathetic activity may not be an appropriate strategy to help reduce perceived dyspnoea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-30
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2000


  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Dyspnea
  • Exercise
  • Glycerol
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Imidazoles
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Respiration
  • Sympathetic Nervous System


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