Ventilation-perfusion inequality in normal humans during exercise at sea level and simulated altitude.
To investigate the effects of both exercise and acute exposure to high altitude on ventilation-perfusion (VA/Q) relationships in the lungs, nine young men were studied at rest and at up to three different levels of exercise on a bicycle ergometer. Altitude was simulated in a hypobaric chamber with measurements made at sea level (mean barometric pressure = 755 Torr) and at simulated altitudes of 5,000 (632 Torr), 10,000 (523 Torr), and 15,000 ft (429 Torr). VA/Q distributions were estimated using the multiple inert gas elimination technique. Dispersion of the distributions of blood flow and ventilation were evaluated by both loge standard deviations (derived from the VA/Q 50-compartment lung model) and three new indices of dispersion that are derived directly from inert gas data. Both methods indicated a broadening of the distributions of blood flow and ventilation with increasing exercise at sea level, but the trend was of borderline statistical significance. There was no change in the resting distributions with altitude. However, with exercise at high altitude (10,000 and 15,000 ft) there was a significant increase in dispersion of blood flow (P less than 0.05) which implies an increase in intraregional inhomogeneity that more than counteracts the more uniform topographical distribution that occurs. Since breathing 100% O2 at 15,000 ft abolished the increased dispersion, the greater VA/Q mismatching seen during exercise at altitude may be related to pulmonary hypertension.
Gale, GE; Torre-Bueno, JR; Moon, RE; Saltzman, HA; Wagner, PD
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