Cardiac output, or how much blood your heart can pump in a minute, can tell your healthcare provider about your heart’s strength and health. This can help them make a diagnosis or find out if your treatment is working as it should. Providers can use several methods to calculate cardiac output. Some methods are more invasive than others.
Cardiac output is how many liters of blood your heart pumps in one minute. Your healthcare provider can figure this out with this cardiac output equation: multiply stroke volume by heart rate.
Sometimes, like when you’re exercising, your body needs more oxygen. At that time, your body can change its cardiac output by adjusting your heart rate and stroke volume. Blood delivers oxygen to your cells, so you need more cardiac output when your active body is using more oxygen than usual.
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Your healthcare provider may use the cardiac output formula to find out why you’re having trouble exercising. They may measure your cardiac output if they think you have heart failure. They may suspect it if you’re not able to exercise as much as you did in the past.
They may want to know your cardiac output to make a diagnosis or find out if a medicine, device or procedure they gave you is working.
Symptoms of decreased cardiac output include:
Your healthcare provider can use several different methods to figure out your cardiac output. These methods include:
For the most accurate method, your provider will need to measure how much oxygen you’re breathing in and get blood samples from an artery and from a catheter in your pulmonary artery. Your provider can do this during right heart catheterization. You will be able to find out your cardiac output the same day along with information regarding pressures inside your heart.
Normal cardiac output ranges from 5 to 6 liters per minute in a person at rest. While exercising, an athlete can have a cardiac output of more than 35 liters per minute. A non-athlete’s cardiac output will be lower than an athlete’s but higher than when the non-athlete is at rest. Your cardiac output also goes up during pregnancy.
Factors that affect your cardiac output include:
Getting more blood to your body depends on a strong heart and healthy blood vessels. You can help your cardiovascular system work better in these ways:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Knowing how much blood your heart is able to pump can help your healthcare provider make a diagnosis or find out if a treatment they gave you is working. Once they have that information, they can consider the available options to help you. Be sure to ask questions if you aren’t clear about your choices. Being informed can help you make good decisions for the best outcome.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/17/2022.
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