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Lactic acidosis, potassium, and the heart rate deflection point in professional road cyclists


Objective: To determine the influence of lactic acidosis, the Bohr effect, and exercise induced hyperkalaemia on the occurrence of the heart rate deflection point (HRDP) in elite (professional) cyclists.

Methods: Sixteen professional male road cyclists (mean (SD) age 26 (1) years) performed a ramp test on a cycle ergometer (workload increases of 5 W/12 s, averaging 25 W/min). Heart rate (HR), gas exchange parameters, and blood variables (lactate, pH, P50 of the oxyhaemoglobin dissociation curve, and K+) were measured during the tests.

Results: A HRDP was shown in 56% of subjects at about 88% of their maximal HR (HRDP group; n = 9) but was linear in the rest (No-HRDP group; n = 7). In the HRDP group, the slope of the HR-workload regression line above the HRDP correlated inversely with levels of K+ at the maximal power output (r = −0.67; p<0.05).

Conclusions: The HRDP phenomenon is associated, at least partly, with exercise induced hyperkalaemia.

  • anaerobic threshold
  • Conconi test
  • cycling
  • heart rate
  • ramp test
  • HR, heart rate
  • HRDP, heart rate deflection point
  • AT, anaerobic threshold
  • LVEF, left ventricular ejection fraction
  • ECG, electrocardiogram
  • RCP, respiratory compensation point
  • LT, lactate threshold
  • OBLA, onset of blood lactate accumulation

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