The dynamic and metabolic performance of rats conditioned by a swimming program (CH) and hearts of sedentary rats (SH) was studied in an isolated working rat heart apparatus. Heart rate, filling pressure, and afterload were controlled or kept constant, and heart weights were comparable in both groups.
When compared with SH, CH had increased cardiac output and cardiac work. Atrial pacing at more rapid rates caused greater differences in these functions, and left ventricular pressure and maximal rate of pressure rise (dp/dt) became higher in CH than in SH. Atrial pacing was associated in CH with increased oxygen consumption but in SH by increased lactate and pyruvate production.
When atrial filling pressure was elevated in order to perform ventricular function curves, CH showed greater dynamic responses than SH. There were also greater increments in oxygen consumption, and the ratio of aerobic to anaerobic energy production was also higher in CH.
The mechanism of increasing oxygen consumption during stress in CH was mainly by improved coronary flow. In SH coronary flow did not change, but extraction of oxygen from the perfusing fluid increased.
The results indicate that in physically trained rats the function of the heart as a pump is improved. These hearts have greater aerobic and mechanical reserve than hearts of sedentary animals. These effects appear to be at least partially due to improved mechanisms of oxygen delivery.