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How to Increase Stroke Volume

By Julia Derek

Stroke volume (SV) refers to the volume of blood that the hearts pumps from the left ventricle with each contraction. It is measured in milliliters per beat. According to the website Sport-fitness-advisor.com, "In untrained individuals stroke volume at rest averages 50-70ml/beat increasing up to 110-130ml/beat beat during intense, physical activity. In elite athletes resting stroke volume averages 90-110ml/beat increasing to as much as 150-220ml/beat." You need to know your SV if you want to determine your cardiac output, which is calculated by multiplying your SV by your heart rate.

Exercise. Any type of exercise will increase your SV. However, it seems that any vertically executed exercise will increase it more. According to Sport-fitness-advisor.com, "swimmers see a smaller increase in stroke volume compared to runners or cyclists for example. It is believed that the supine position prevents blood from pooling in the lower extremities enhancing venous return."

Undergo saline infusion using volumetric echocardiography or a combination of pulmonary artery catheterization and radionuclide cineangiography. It has been estimated that it will increase your SV significantly--by 15 percent to 25 percent, according to a the website Critical Care Forum.

Perform a Valsalva maneuver. You perform the Valsalva maneuver when you try to exhale with your mouth closed and your nose covered. In an assessment of SV variability using real-time spiral phase contrast from 2008, a slight SV increase occurred using this maneuver: "During the first few seconds (phase I), we observed a slight increase in SV, associated with the increase in venous return due to inspiratory pressure."

Place a cold compress on your forehead for 2 minutes. The above-mentioned assessment using real-time spiral phase contrast found that facial cooling increased SV.

Apply mental stress. Examples of mental stress include challenging work, excessive worrying and inability to relax. The increase in SV using mental stress was another finding of the assessment using real-time spiral phase contrast.

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