This paper describes a rebreathing method for the simultaneous measurement of oxygen consumption (VO2) and effective pulmonary blood flow (QP. eff) at rest and during exercise. Subjects rebreathed a test gas consisting of 35% oxygen, 3.5% chlorodifluoromethane (freon-22), and 10% argon in nitrogen for 30 seconds or until the respired oxygen tension fell to below 13.3 kPa. Sixty normal subjects were studied on a motorized treadmill, the Bruce protocol being used. The rebreathing manoeuvre was performed at three minute intervals, and was initially practised sitting down. Measurements were then made with the subjects standing at rest, and subsequently during the last minute of each stage of the Bruce exercise protocol until the subjects were exhausted. Heart rate was recorded from the electrocardiogram. Oxygen uptake plotted against calculated power (watts) showed a discontinuity between resting and exercise values, probably because power output during treadmill exercise is underestimated. The arbitrary addition of 30 watts to the exercise power output abolished this discontinuity. There was good agreement between rebreathing estimates of oxygen consumption and values measured during a second exercise test by the conventional open circuit argon dilution method. Coefficients of variation of oxygen consumption and effective pulmonary blood flow measured by rebreathing were usually less than 10% even during maximal exertion. At rest mean (SD) effective pulmonary blood flow corrected for body surface area was 2.2 (0.46) l/min/m2. Effective pulmonary blood flow rose linearly with oxygen consumption. At rest the arteriovenous oxygen content difference for pulmonary blood (VO2/QP eff) was 9.1 (1.6) ml/dl, rising to a maximum of 16.4 (1.8) ml/dl. The stroke volume index was 27.5 (6.8) ml/m2, rising to a maximum of 46.5 (7.1) ml/m2 during exertion.
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