Chronotropic incompetence, beta-blockers, and functional capacity in advanced congestive heart failure: Time to pace?

Ulrich P. Jorde, Timothy J. Vittorio, Michael E. Kasper, Emma Arezzi, Paolo C. Colombo, Rochelle L. Goldsmith, Kartikya Ahuja, Chi Hong Tseng, Francois Haas, David S. Hirsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Background: Chronotropic incompetence (CI) is often seen in subjects with chronic congestive heart failure (CHF). The prevalence of CI, its mechanisms and association with beta-blocker use as well as exercise capacity have not been clearly defined. Methods and results: Cardiopulmonary exercise tolerance testing data for 278 consecutive patients with systolic CHF was analyzed. CI, defined as the inability to reach 80% of maximally predicted heart rate was present in 128 of 278 subjects (46%). The prevalence of CI was highest in those with most impaired exercise capacity (72, 48, and 24% for subjects with a VO2 of < 14.0, 14.0-20.0, and > 20.0 ml/kg/min respectively; p = 0.001). While subjects with CI had lower peak exercise heart rate (114 vs. 152 bpm), and lower peak VO2 (15.4 vs. 19.9 ml/kg/min), they were equally likely to be on chronic beta-blocker therapy (74% vs. 71%; p = 0.51). Heart rate and norepinephrine (NE) levels were measured during exercise in a separate cohort of 24 subjects with CHF. There was no difference in beta-blocker dose between subjects with and without CI, however, exercise induced NE release and Chronotropic Responsiveness Index, a measure of post-synaptic beta-receptor sensitivity to NE, were lower in subjects with CI (1687 ± 911 vs. 2593 ± 1451 pg/ml p = 0.08; CRI 12.7 ± 5.7 vs. 22.1 ± 4.7, p = 0.002). Conclusions: CI occurs in > 70% of subjects with advanced systolic CHF irrespective of beta-blocker use and is associated with a trend toward impaired NE release, post-synaptic beta-receptor desensitization and reduced exercise capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-101
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Heart Failure
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Beta-blocker
  • CHF
  • Chronotropic Incompetence
  • Exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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