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Chemoreceptor responsiveness at sea level does not predict the pulmonary pressure response to high altitude

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posted on 2022-04-25, 11:43 authored by Ryan L. Hoiland, Glen E. Foster, Joseph Donnelly, Michael StembridgeMichael Stembridge, Christopher K. Willie, Kurt J. Smith, Nia C. Lewis, Samuel J.E. Lucas, Jim D. Cotter, David J. Yeoman, Kate N. Thomas, Trevor A. Day, Mike M. Tymko, Keith R. Burgess, Philip N. Ainslie

 The hypoxic ventilatory response (HVR) at sea level (SL) is moderately predictive of the change in pulmonary artery systolic pressure (PASP) to acute normobaric hypoxia. However, because of progressive changes in the chemoreflex control of breathing and acid-base balance at high altitude (HA), HVR at SL may not predict PASP at HA. We hypothesized that resting peripheral oxyhemoglobin saturation (SpO2) at HA would correlate better than HVR at SL to PASP at HA. In 20 participants at SL, we measured normobaric, isocapnic HVR (L/min·-%SpO2 -1) and resting PASP using echocardiography. Both resting SpO2 and PASP measures were repeated on day 2 (n=10), days 4-8 (n=12), and 2-3 weeks (n=8) after arrival at 5050m. These data were also collected at 5050m on life-long HA residents (Sherpa; n=21). Compared to SL, SpO2 decreased from 98.6 to 80.5% (P<0.001), while PASP increased from 21.7 to 34.0mmHg (P<0.001) after 2-3 weeks at 5050m. Isocapnic HVR at SL was not related to SpO2 or PASP at any time point at 5050m (all P>0.05). Sherpa had lower PASP (P<0.01) than lowlanders on days 4-8 despite similar SpO2. Upon correction for hematocrit, Sherpa PASP was not different from lowlanders at SL, but lower than lowlanders at all HA time points. At 5050m, whilst SpO2 was not related to PASP in lowlanders at any point (all R2=<0.05; P>0.50), there was a weak relationship in the Sherpa (R2=0.16; P=0.07). We conclude that neither HVR at SL nor resting SpO2 at HA correlates with elevations in PASP at HA. 


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  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


Hoiland, R.L., Foster, G.E., Donnelly, J., Stembridge, M., Willie, C.K., Smith, K.J., Lewis, N.C., Lucas, S.J., Cotter, J.D., Yeoman, D.J., Thomas, K.N., Day, T.A., Tymko, M., Burgess, K.R., Ainslie, P.N.(2015) 'Chemoreceptor responsiveness at sea level does not predict the pulmonary pressure response to high altitude', CHEST Journal, 148(1), pp.219-225

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

Mike Stembridge

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Cardiovascular Physiology

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