Total haemoglobin mass, but not haemoglobin concentration, is associated with preoperative cardiopulmonary exercise testing-derived oxygen-consumption variables

Abstract
Background. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) measures peak exertional oxygen consumption (V˙O2peak) and that at the anaerobic threshold (V˙O2 at AT, i.e. the point at which anaerobic metabolism contributes substantially to overall metabolism). Lower values are associated with excess postoperative morbidity and mortality. A reduced haemoglobin concentration ([Hb]) results from a reduction in total haemoglobin mass (tHb-mass) or an increase in plasma volume. Thus, tHb-mass might be a more useful measure of oxygen-carrying capacity and might correlate better with CPET-derived fitness measures in preoperative patients than does circulating [Hb].Methods. Before major elective surgery, CPET was performed, and both tHb-mass (optimized carbon monoxide rebreathing method) and circulating [Hb] were determined.Results. In 42 patients (83% male), [Hb] was unrelated to V˙O2 at AT and V˙O2peak (r=0.02, P=0.89 and r=0.04, P=0.80, respectively) and explained none of the variance in either measure. In contrast, tHb-mass was related to both (r=0.661, P<0.0001 and r=0.483, P=0.001 for V˙O2 at AT and V˙O2peak, respectively). The tHb-mass explained 44% of variance in V˙O2 at AT (P<0.0001) and 23% in V˙O2peak (P=0.001).Conclusions. In contrast to [Hb], tHb-mass is an important determinant of physical fitness before major elective surgery. Further studies should determine whether low tHb-mass is predictive of poor outcome and whether targeted increases in tHb-mass might thus improve outcome.

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