Exercise testing is traditionally performed with leg exercise on either a treadmill or a bicycle ergometer. Many of these tests are terminated before dyspnoea occurs because of leg fatigue, arthritic pain, or claudication. A study was carried out to determine whether arm ergometry testing might serve as an alternative method to leg testing in eight patients with chronic obstructive lung disease. The patients had mild to moderate dyspnoea on exertion and required bronchodilator treatment. They had smoked an average of 62 pack years and had a mean FEV1 of 1.88 l. Arm and leg ergometry yielded similar levels of maximum ventilation (arm 47.2, leg 48.6 l/min), maximum heart rates (126 v 124 beats/min), maximum tidal volume (1.5 v 1.6 l), and respiratory rate (30 v 29 breaths/min); but maximum oxygen consumption (1120 v 966 ml/min), maximum power output (62 v 26 w), and oxygen pulse (9.1 v 7.8 ml/beat) were all higher with leg than with arm ergometry. In addition, ventilation and heart rate at a given level of oxygen consumption were higher for arm than for leg work during both submaximal and maximal exercise. It is concluded that arm ergometry offers an alternative testing method to leg testing in patients with moderate chronic obstructive lung disease.
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