J Therm Biol. 2017 Jan;63:31-40
Enhanced cardiovascular strain is one of the factors that explains degraded aerobic capacity in hot environments. The cardiovascular system is regulated by the autonomic nervous system, whose activity can be indirectly evaluated by analyzing heart rate variability (HRV) and systolic arterial pressure (SAP) variability. However, no study has addressed whether HRV or SAP variability can predict aerobic performance during a single bout of exercise. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate whether there is an association between cardiovascular variability and performance in rats subjected to treadmill running at two ambient temperatures. In addition, this study investigated whether the heat-induced changes in cardiovascular variability and reductions in performance are associated with each other. Male Wistar rats were implanted with a catheter into their carotid artery for pulsatile blood pressure recordings. After recovery from surgery, the animals were subjected to incremental-speed exercise until they were fatigued under temperate (25°C) and hot (35°C) conditions. Impaired performance and exaggerated cardiovascular responses were observed in the hot relative to the temperate environment. Significant and negative correlations between most of the SAP variability components (standard deviation, variance, very low frequency [VLF], and low frequency [LF]) at the earlier stages of exercise and total exercise time were observed in both environmental conditions. Furthermore, the heat-induced changes in the sympathetic components of SAP variability (VLF and LF) were associated with heat-induced impairments in performance. Overall, the results indicate that SAP variability at the beginning of exercise predicts the acute performance of rats. Our findings also suggest that heat impairments in aerobic performance are associated with changes in cardiovascular autonomic control.