How To Increase Cardiac Output

There are many reasons why it would behoove you to learn how to increase cardiac output. Cardiac output describes the amount of blood the heart is able to pump to the rest of your body, measured in liters per minute. There are two major factors that will determine your cardiac output: how fast your heart beats and the strength of each beat. Here are some ways to increase cardiac output.

  1. Exercise harder. Exercising harder will up your heart rate and will increase cardiac output in the short-term, and it will make your heart stronger, which will increase cardiac output in the long-term. How? Because a stronger heart is a more efficient heart, it pumps more blood with each beat. The more cardio you do, the better off you are in the short and the long run.
  2. Lower your blood pressure. Lower blood pressure affects cardiac output because it decreases the input resistance that works against your heart when it's trying to pump your blood. If you have high blood pressure or you're even in the high normal range, work with your physician to adjust your diet, consume less sodium and processed foods, and consider taking medication to lower your arterial pressure.
  3. Choose sports that require more long-term output and muscular use. Note that cross-country skiers have a much higher cardiac output than basketball players. This is because basketball requires short bursts of energy and very little usage of muscles. While playing basketball is still better than remaining sedentary, cross-country skiing requires long-term aerobic exercise and the intense use of the muscles in the arms and legs. As a result, the cardiac output to the skeletal muscles for a cross-country skier is increased significantly, and the blood flow to more inactive organs, such as the stomach and liver, is restricted.  Sixty to seventy percent of a cross-country skier's cardiac output is received by the skeletal muscles, as opposed to fifteen percent for a person at rest.


USC Department of Biomedical Engineering

Montana State University

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