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© 2015, European Society of Radiology. Introduction: Isometric exercise may unmask cardiovascular disease not evident at rest, and cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging is proven for comprehensive resting assessment. This study devised a simple isometric exercise CMR methodology and assessed the hemodynamic response evoked by isometric exercise. Methods: A biceps isometric exercise technique was devised for CMR, and 75 healthy volunteers were assessed at rest, after 3-minute biceps exercise, and 5-minute of recovery using: 1) blood pressure (BP) and 2) CMR measured aortic flow and left ventricular function. Total peripheral resistance (SVR) and arterial compliance (TAC), cardiac output (CO), left ventricular volumes and function (ejection fraction, stroke volume, power output), blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), and rate pressure product were assessed at all time points. Results: Image quality was preserved during stress. During exercise there were increases in CO (+14.9 %), HR (+17.0 %), SVR (+9.8 %), systolic BP (+22.4 %), diastolic BP (+25.4 %) and mean BP (+23.2 %). In addition, there were decreases in TAC (-22.0 %) and left ventricular ejection fraction (-6.3 %). Age and body mass index modified the evoked response, even when resting measures were similar. Conclusions: Isometric exercise technique evokes a significant cardiovascular response in CMR, unmasking physiological differences that are not apparent at rest. Key points: • Isometric exercise unmasks cardiovascular differences not evident at rest. • CMR is the reference standard for non-invasive cardiovascular assessment at rest. • A new easily replicable method combines isometric exercise with CMR. • Significant haemodynamic changes occur and differences are unmasked. • The physiological, isometric CMR stressor can be easily replicated.

Original publication




Journal article


European Radiology

Publication Date





1009 - 1017