Heavy physical exercise may cause gastrointestinal signs and symptoms, and, although splanchnic blood flow may decrease through redistribution by more than 50%, it is unclear whether these signs and symptoms relate to gastrointestinal ischemia. In 10 healthy volunteers, we studied the effect of exercise on gastric mucosal perfusion adequacy using air tonometry. Two relatively short (10 min) exercise stages were conducted on a cycle ergometer, aiming for 80 and 100% of maximum heart rate, respectively. The intragastric-arterial PCO2 gradient (ΔPCO2) was elevated by 1.1 ± 1.0 kPa over baseline values (-0.1 ± 0.3 kPa) only after maximal exercise (P < 0.001). ΔPCO2 positively correlated with the arterial lactate level taken as an index of exercise intensity (Spearman's rank test: r = 0.76, P < 0.0001). By bilinear regression analysis, a lactate level of 12 mmol/l, above which a sharp rise in the ΔPCO2 occurred, was calculated. We conclude that, in healthy volunteers with normal splanchnic vasculature, gastric ischemia may develop during maximal exercise as judged from intragastric PCO2 tonometry.
- Exercise testing
- Gastric mucosal perfusion
- Intragastric carbon dioxide pressure