[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CO2 is an intrinsic vasodilator for cerebral and myocardial blood vessels. Myocardial vasodilation without a parallel increase of the oxygen demand leads to changes in myocardial oxygenation. Because apnoea and hyperventilation modify blood CO2, we hypothesized that voluntary breathing manoeuvres induce changes in myocardial oxygenation that can be measured by oxygenation-sensitive cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR).
Fourteen healthy volunteers were studied. Eight performed free long breath-hold as well as a 1- and 2-min hyperventilation, whereas six aquatic athletes were studied during a 60-s breath-hold and a free long breath-hold. Signal intensity (SI) changes in T2*-weighted, steady-state free precession, gradient echo images at 1.5 T were monitored during breathing manoeuvres and compared with changes in capillary blood gases. Breath-holds lasted for 35, 58 and 117 s, and hyperventilation for 60 and 120 s. As expected, capillary pCO2 decreased significantly during hyperventilation. Capillary pO2 decreased significantly during the 117-s breath-hold. The breath-holds led to a SI decrease (deoxygenation) in the left ventricular blood pool, while the SI of the myocardium increased by 8.2% (P = 0.04), consistent with an increase in myocardial oxygenation. In contrast, hyperventilation for 120 s, however, resulted in a significant 7.5% decrease in myocardial SI/oxygenation (P = 0.02). Change in capillary pCO2 was the only independently correlated variable predicting myocardial oxygenation changes during breathing manoeuvres (r = 0.58, P < 0.01).
In healthy individuals, breathing manoeuvres lead to changes in myocardial oxygenation, which appear to be mediated by CO2. These changes can be monitored in vivo by oxygenation-sensitive CMR and thus, may have value as a diagnostic tool.