Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2011 May; 66(5): 829-835.

Copyright © 2011 Hospital das Clínicas da FMUSP

The slope of the oxygen pulse curve does not depend on the maximal heart rate in elite soccer players

Raphael Rodrigues Perim I , Gabriel Ruiz Signorelli I , Jonathan Myers II , Ross Arena III , Claudio Gil Soares de Araújo I IV

Physical Education Graduate Program, Gama Filho University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Stanford University and Veterans Affairs, Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, USA.

Physical Therapy Program, Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, USA.

Clinimex, Exercise Medicine Clinic, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

E-mail: Tel.: 55 21 2599 7138

received March 30, 2011; revised April 1, 2011; accepted April 1, 2011.



It is unknown whether an extremely high heart rate can affect oxygen pulse profile during progressive maximal exercise in healthy subjects.


Our aim was to compare relative oxygen pulse (adjusted for body weight) curves in athletes at their maximal heart rate during treadmill cardiopulmonary exercise testing.


A total of 180 elite soccer players were categorized in quartiles according to their maximum heart rate values (n = 45). Oxygen consumption, maximum heart rate and relative oxygen pulse curves in the extreme quartiles, Q1 and Q4, were compared at intervals corresponding to 10% of the total duration of a cardiopulmonary exercise testing.


Oxygen consumption was similar among all subjects during cardiopulmonary exercise testing; however subjects in Q1 started to exhibit lower maximum heart rate values when 20% of the test was complete. Conversely, the relative oxygen pulse was higher in this group when cardiopulmonary exercise testing was 40% complete (p<.01). Although the slopes of the lines were similar (p = .25), the regression intercepts differed (p<.01) between Q1 and Q4. During the last two minutes of testing, a flat or decreasing oxygen pulse was identified in 20% of the soccer players, and this trend was similar between subjects in Q1 and Q4.


Relative oxygen pulse curve slopes, which serve as an indirect and non-invasive surrogate for stroke volume, suggest that the stroke volume is similar in young and aerobically fit subjects regardless of the maximum heart rate reached.

Keywords: Cardiopulmonary exercise testing, Maximum oxygen consumption, Ramp protocol, Athletes, Soccer

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