Cardiovascular drift in trained paraplegic and able-bodied individuals during prolonged wheelchair exercise: Effect of fluid replacement

Emmanouil D. Zacharakis, Stylianos N. Kounalakis, George P. Nassis, Nickos D. Geladas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The progressive heart rate (HR) increase and stroke volume (SV) decline during prolonged constant-load leg exercise signifies cardiovascular drift (CVdrift); fluid replacement is known to minimize this phenomenon. Like their able-bodied counterparts (AB), paraplegic athletes undergo prolonged exercise during training and competition, which could result in CVdrift. The aim of this study is to address the role of rehydration on preventing CVdrift in spinal cord injured (SCI) paraplegic athletes. Eight SCI athletes with an injury level between C7 and T6 and 9 AB subjects performed 60-min constant-load exercise on a wheelchair ergometer in a thermo-neutral environment. No fluid was taken in 1 trial, whereas 85% of sweat losses were replaced by drinking water in another trial. Cardic output (CO), SV, HR, and oral temperature (Tor) were determined during exercise. Prolonged exercise resulted in similar HR (18 beats·min-1 for AB and 12 beats·min-1 for SCI) and Tor (0.63 °C for AB and 0.71 °C for SCI) elevation and SV decline (-8.5 mL·beat-1 for AB and -5.5 mL·beat-1 for SCI), whereas CO remained unchanged. Water intake restrained the exercise-induced hyperthermia and resulted in smaller SV decline (-4.0 mL for AB and -3.0 mL for SCI, p < 0.01). In conclusion, CVdrift was similar in SCI and AB subjects during prolonged wheelchair exercise. Likewise, the beneficial effects of hydration in both groups were analogous.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-381
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Heart rate increase
  • Thermoregulation
  • Vascular distensibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)


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