Electrocardiographic consequences of a peripatetic lifestyle in gray wolves (Canis lupus)

Peter Constable, Ken Hinchcliff, Nick Demma, Margaret Callahan, Bruce Dale, Kevin Fox, Layne Adams, Ray Wack, Lyn Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cardiac chamber enlargement and hypertrophy are normal physiologic responses to repetitive endurance exercise activity in human beings and domestic dogs. Whether similar changes occur in wild animals as a consequence of increased activity is unknown. We found that free-ranging gray wolves (Canis lupus, n = 11), the archetypical endurance athlete, have electrocardiographic evidence of cardiac chamber enlargement and hypertrophy relative to sedentary captive gray wolves (n = 20), as demonstrated by significant increases in QRS duration, QT interval, and QT interval corrected for heart rate, a tendency towards increased Q, R, and S wave voltages in all leads, and a significant decrease in heart rate. We conclude that exercise activity level and therefore lifestyle affects physiologic variables in wild animals. An immediate consequence of this finding is that physiologic measurements obtained from a captive wild-animal population with reduced exercise activity level may not accurately reflect the normal physiologic state for free-ranging members of the same species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)557-563
Number of pages7
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 1998


  • Activity level
  • Cardiac enlargement
  • Electrocardiography
  • Exercise
  • Gray wolf

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology


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