We examined whether cardiac sympathetic dener-vation influences the cardiovascular response to exercise in Parkinson's disease (PD). Sixteen patients with PD were divided into two groups, according to their cardiac uptake of 123I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (denervated group, 10 patients with heart to mediastinum (H/M) ratio < 1.7; innervated group, six patients with H/M ratio > 1.7) and compared changes in blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), and cardiac contractility with 13 control subjects during ergometric exercise stress. Velocity index (VI), an indicator of cardiac contractility, was measured using impedance cardiography and recorded every minute. Exercise began at a power output of 20 W for the first 2 min and increased 10 W every 2 min to a maximal intensity of 60 W. All control subjects accomplished the procedure while six patients with PD could not continue after the first minute of 50 W loading. There were no significant differences in BP or HR change between the three groups. However, a significant reduction in VI was observed from the first minute of the 30 W workload in the denervated group compared to the control group. This lowered response continued till 50 W loading and was significantly different to the innervated group at 50 W loading. No significant VI changes were observed between the control and innervated groups throughout the exercise test. Patients with PD with reduced MIBG uptake had a lowered cardiac contractility than innervated subjects during exercise, suggesting that this response represents the impaired exercise capacity of patients with PD with cardiac sympathetic denervation.
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