OBJECTIVE: To assess the effects of exposure to 4% and 6% carboxyhemoglobin on ventricular arrhythmias in patients with coronary artery disease.
DESIGN: Randomized, double-blind, crossover design.
SETTING: Exercise laboratory with an environmentally controlled exposure.
PATIENTS: Forty-one nonsmokers with documented coronary artery disease.
INTERVENTION: On day 1, a training session with no exposure, the baseline carboxyhemoglobin level was measured, and a supine bicycle exercise test was done. On days 2 to 4, patients were exposed to room air, 100 ppm carbon monoxide (target, 4% carboxyhemoglobin) or 200 ppm carbon monoxide (target, 6% carboxyhemoglobin), and they then did supine bicycle exercise with radionuclide ventriculography. Ambulatory electrocardiogram recordings were made during the 4 consecutive days to determine the frequency of ventricular premature depolarization (VPD) at various intervals.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: The frequency of single VPD/h was significantly greater on the 6% carboxyhemoglobin day than on the room air day during the exercise period (167.72 +/- 37.99 for 6% carboxyhemoglobin compared with 127.32 +/- 28.22 for room air, P = 0.03). During exercise, the frequency of multiple VPD/h was greater on the 6% carboxyhemoglobin day compared with room air (9.59 +/- 3.70 on the 6% carboxyhemoglobin compared with 3.18 +/- 1.67 on room air, P = 0.02). Patients who developed increased single VPD during exercise on the 6% carboxyhemoglobin day were significantly older than those who had no increased arrhythmia, whereas patients who developed complex arrhythmias were also older and, in addition, exercised longer and had a higher peak workload during exercise.
CONCLUSION: The number and complexity of ventricular arrhythmias increases significantly during exercise after carbon monoxide exposure producing 6% carboxyhemoglobin compared with room air but not after exposure producing 4% carboxyhemoglobin.