Pulmonary gas exchange in diving.
Diving-related pulmonary effects are due mostly to increased gas density, immersion-related increase in pulmonary blood volume, and (usually) a higher inspired Po(2). Higher gas density produces an increase in airways resistance and work of breathing, and a reduced maximum breathing capacity. An additional mechanical load is due to immersion, which can impose a static transrespiratory pressure load as well as a decrease in pulmonary compliance. The combination of resistive and elastic loads is largely responsible for the reduction in ventilation during underwater exercise. Additionally, there is a density-related increase in dead space/tidal volume ratio (Vd/Vt), possibly due to impairment of intrapulmonary gas phase diffusion and distribution of ventilation. The net result of relative hypoventilation and increased Vd/Vt is hypercapnia. The effect of high inspired Po(2) and inert gas narcosis on respiratory drive appear to be minimal. Exchange of oxygen by the lung is not impaired, at least up to a gas density of 25 g/l. There are few effects of pressure per se, other than a reduction in the P50 of hemoglobin, probably due to either a conformational change or an effect of inert gas binding.
Moon, RE; Cherry, AD; Stolp, BW; Camporesi, EM
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