Regional cerebral blood flow in humans at high altitude: gradual ascent and 2 wk at 5,050 m.
The interindividual variation in ventilatory acclimatization to high altitude is likely reflected in variability in the cerebrovascular responses to high altitude, particularly between brain regions displaying disparate hypoxic sensitivity. We assessed regional differences in cerebral blood flow (CBF) measured with Duplex ultrasound of the left internal carotid and vertebral arteries. End-tidal Pco2, oxyhemoglobin saturation (SpO2), blood pressure, and heart rate were measured during a trekking ascent to, and during the first 2 wk at, 5,050 m. Transcranial color-coded Duplex ultrasound (TCCD) was employed to measure flow and diameter of the middle cerebral artery (MCA). Measures were collected at 344 m (TCCD-baseline), 1,338 m (CBF-baseline), 3,440 m, and 4,371 m. Following arrival to 5,050 m, regional CBF was measured every 12 h during the first 3 days, once at 5-9 days, and once at 12-16 days. Total CBF was calculated as twice the sum of internal carotid and vertebral flow and increased steadily with ascent, reaching a maximum of 842 ± 110 ml/min (+53 ± 7.6% vs. 1,338 m; mean ± SE) at ∼ 60 h after arrival at 5,050 m. These changes returned to +15 ± 12% after 12-16 days at 5,050 m and were related to changes in SpO2 (R(2) = 0.36; P < 0.0001). TCCD-measured MCA flow paralleled the temporal changes in total CBF. Dilation of the MCA was sustained on days 2 (+12.6 ± 4.6%) and 8 (+12.9 ± 2.9%) after arrival at 5,050 m. We observed no significant differences in regional CBF at any time point. In conclusion, the variability in CBF during ascent and acclimatization is related to ventilatory acclimatization, as reflected in changes in SpO2.
Willie, CK; Smith, KJ; Day, TA; Ray, LA; Lewis, NCS; Bakker, A; Macleod, DB; Ainslie, PN
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