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Critical Care and Emergency Medicine - Non-Clinical Medicine - Physiology

Effects of Slow Deep Breathing at High Altitude on Oxygen Saturation, Pulmonary and Systemic Hemodynamics
Published: Monday, November 12, 2012
Author: Grzegorz Bilo et al.

by Grzegorz Bilo, Miriam Revera, Maurizio Bussotti, Daniele Bonacina, Katarzyna Styczkiewicz, Gianluca Caldara, Alessia Giglio, Andrea Faini, Andrea Giuliano, Carolina Lombardi, Kalina Kawecka-Jaszcz, Giuseppe Mancia, Piergiuseppe Agostoni, Gianfranco Parati

Slow deep breathing improves blood oxygenation (SpO2) and affects hemodynamics in hypoxic patients. We investigated the ventilatory and hemodynamic effects of slow deep breathing in normal subjects at high altitude. We collected data in healthy lowlanders staying either at 4559 m for 2–3 days (Study A; N?=?39) or at 5400 m for 12–16 days (Study B; N?=?28). Study variables, including SpO2 and systemic and pulmonary arterial pressure, were assessed before, during and after 15 minutes of breathing at 6 breaths/min. At the end of slow breathing, an increase in SpO2 (Study A: from 80.2±7.7% to 89.5±8.2%; Study B: from 81.0±4.2% to 88.6±4.5; both p<0.001) and significant reductions in systemic and pulmonary arterial pressure occurred. This was associated with increased tidal volume and no changes in minute ventilation or pulmonary CO diffusion. Slow deep breathing improves ventilation efficiency for oxygen as shown by blood oxygenation increase, and it reduces systemic and pulmonary blood pressure at high altitude but does not change pulmonary gas diffusion.