Cardiac output (Q) is the amount of blood pumped by the heart per minute. This is a very important value for cardiologists and exercise physiologists when coming up with a successful course of action for their patients.
However, you don’t have to be a healthcare professional or a cardiac patient to benefit from knowing what your cardiac output is. It’s always a good idea to know as much about your body’s status quo as possible.
The cardiac output formula is Q = Heart rate (HR) x Stroke volume (SV).
If you’re unaware of what stroke volume is, it’s just the volume of blood pumped from the left ventricle per beat. It makes sense that you would multiply this value by your HR to get your cardiac output, as cardiac output is the amount of blood pumped by the heart per minute.
Read on below for more awesome info on the cardiac output formula and why it’s important!
How does exercise affect cardiac output?
As you exercise, your HR increases and your SV increases. Thus, causing cardiac output to increase as well. See, during exercise there’s a decrease in peripheral resistance mainly due to the dilation of vessels supplying skeletal muscles.
It’s important to note here that the effective reduction in resistance is not as great as the effective increase in cardiac output. This is essentially why mean arterial pressure increases during exercise.
Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise are very helpful for improving heart health. They both affect the heart differently. For instance, aerobic or endurance exercise will actually increase the size of the left ventricle in the heart. This increased size of the ventricle will allow it to fill up with more blood during diastole. Anaerobic exercise will actually increase the thickness of the left ventricle, allowing the heart to forcefully pump out more blood.
How can diet affect cardiac output?
If your arteries are full of plaque then your RBC’s can’t flow through at their normal rate. This can be a huge problem for you if you’re engaging in any type of exercise or activity where your HR will increase. Cleaning up your diet is one of the first things that your doctor or dietitian would encourage you to do.
Decreasing your salt intake as well as saturated/trans fats should greatly improve your cardiac output. Eating less processed foods and more fruits, vegetables, and fish is the right way to go!
Making even small improvements to your exercise routine and diet can acquire a lot of goodwill toward your health and well being. You’ll definitely want to talk to your doctor first to ensure that you’re put on the path to success early on.
Who uses the cardiac output formula?
Cardiologists, nurses, cardiac rehab technicians, exercise physiologists and many other health care professionals use the cardiac output formula to help create a plan of action for their patients.
Besides healthcare professionals, college students interested in exercise science or exercise physiology can also benefit form obtaining this knowledge as they’ll probably need to be familiar with it as they continue on with their studies.
How should you exercise to improve your cardiac output?
One of the best ways you can improve your cardiac output is by engaging in aerobic exercise. Whether you just go for a walk at the park or you’re preparing for your first marathon, something is always better than nothing. Among such a wide spectrum of exercise intensity allows for virtually anyone with any fitness level to benefit from aerobic exercise.
A very useful type of aerobic exercise is that of continuous interval training, aka fartlek training. Fartlek training, or “Speed play” in Swedish, is a very effective cardio technique where you manipulate your speeds throughout your run.
For example, you can walk for 5 minutes, jog for 5 minutes, walk for 5 minutes, jog for another 5 minutes, and then just keep repeating until you’re satisfied. The changes in tempo allows you to keep your cardiac output up without becoming too fatigued and quitting. As you can imagine, there are literally an infinite amount of ways that you can customize a fartlek training session.
If you’re not the outdoor-type and you’d rather exercise in your home or at a gym, then you should definitely take advantage of the awesome cardio equipment available to you! Whether you prefer to use an elliptical machine or you’d rather exercise on a stationary bike, you can definitely expect an improved cardiac output among many other awesome benefits.
Even though aerobic exercise is incredible for improving your cardiac output and overall heart health, don’t forget about resistance exercise too. Weight training is very important for heart health as it actually increases the thickness of the left ventricle via power loading.
This increased size of the myocardium will allow for increased stroke volume and cardiac output as you’ll be able to push more blood out of the heart given its increased strength.
Final thoughts on the cardiac output formula
As you now know, the cardiac output formula is Q = Heart rate (HR) x Stroke volume (SV). During exercise, both HR and SV will increase. Thus, increasing Q.
The cardiac output formula is a very important calculation that is used by many different healthcare professionals to not only see the status quo of their patient’s heart, but to also use as a starting point to create a successful plan of action for them.
Increasing your exercise frequency and perhaps even intensity can be a huge factor when it comes to improving heart health. This, combined with healthy diet habits is definitely a formula for success!
However, be sure to first talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program or a new diet. The best thing you can do before you jump into the gym or start meal prepping is to educate yourself on the current status quo of your body’s health. I hope that this article on the cardiac output formula has given you some insight on what it’s used for and how it can help you to understand the health of your heart better.