Istituto di Fisiologia Clinica     
Pingitore A., Gemignani A., Menicucci D., Di Bella G., De Marchi D., Passera M., Bedini R., Ghelarducci B., L'Abbate A. Cardiovascular response to acute hypoxemia induced by prolonged breath holding in air. In: American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, vol. 294 pp. 449 - 455. American Physiological Society, 2008.
Prolonged breath hold (BH) represents a valid model for studying the cardiac adaptation to acute hypoxemia in humans. Cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) allows a three-dimensional, high-resolution, noninvasive, and nonionizing anatomical and functional evaluation of the heart. The aim of the study was to assess the adaptation of the cardiovascular system to prolonged BH in air. Ten male volunteer diving athletes (age 30+/-6 yr) were studied during maximal BH duration with CMR. Four epochs were studied: I, rest; II and III, intermediate BH; and IV, peak BH. Oxygen saturation (SO2), heart rate (HR), blood pressure (BP), systemic vascular resistance (VR), end-diastolic (EDV) and end-systolic volumes (ESV), stroke volume (SV), cardiac output (CO), ejection fraction (EF), maximal elastance index (EL), systolic wall thickening (SWT), and end-systolic wall stress (ESWS) of the left ventricle (LV) were measured in all four BH epochs. Average BH duration was 3.7 +/- 0.3 min. SO2 was reduced (I:97+/-0.2%, range 9698%, vs. IV:84+/-2.0%, range 7692%; P<0.00001). BP, EDV, ESV, SV, CO, and ESWS linearly increased from epochs I to IV, whereas EF, EL, and SWT showed an opposite behavior, decreasing from resting to epoch IV (all trends are P<0.01). During prolonged BH in air, a marked enlargement of the LV chamber occurs in healthy diving athletes. This response to acute hypoxemia allows SV,CO, and arterial pressure to be maintained despite the severe reduction in LV contractile function.
URL: http://ajpheart.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/294/1/H449#BIBL
DOI: 10.1152/ajpheart.00607.2007
Subject diving athletes
cardiovascular system
cardiac magnetic resonance imaging

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