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European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 100, Issue 2, pp 193–205 | Cite as

Normo or hypobaric hypoxic tests: propositions for the determination of the individual susceptibility to altitude illnesses

  • Gustave SavoureyEmail author
  • Jean-Claude Launay
  • Yves Besnard
  • Angélique Guinet-Lebreton
  • Antonia Alonso
  • Fabien Sauvet
  • Cyprien Bourrilhon
Original Article

Abstract

Assessment of individual susceptibility to altitude illnesses and more particularly to acute mountain sickness (AMS) by means of tests performed in normobaric hypoxia (NH) or in hypobaric hypoxia (HH) is still debated. Eighteen subjects were submitted to HH and NH tests (PIO2=120 hPa, 30 min) before an expedition. Maximal and mean acute mountain sickness scores (AMSmax and mean) were determined using the self-report Lake Louise questionnaire scored daily. Cardio-ventilatory (f, VT, PetO2 and PetCO2, HR and finger pulse oxymetry SpO2) were measured at times 5 and 30 min of the tests. Arterial (PaO2, PaCO2, pH, SaO2) and capillary haemoglobin (Hb) measurements were performed at times 30 min. Hypoxic ventilatory (HVR) and cardiac (HCR) responses, peripheral O2 blood content (CpO2) were calculated. A significant time effect is found for ΔSpO2 (P = 0.04). Lower PaCO2 (P = 0.005), SaO2 (P = 0.07) and higher pH (P = 0.02) are observed in HH compared to NH. AMSmax varied from 3 to12 and AMSmean between 0.6 and 3.5. In NH at 30 min, AMSmax is related to PetO2 (R = 0.61, P = 0.03), CpO2 (R = −0.53, P = 0.02) and in HH to CpO2 (R = −0.57, P = 0.01). In NH, AMSmean is related to Δf (R = 0.46, P = 0.05), HCR (R = 0.49, P = 0.04), CpO2 (R = −0.51, P = 0.03) and, in HH at 30 min, to VT (R = 0.69, P = 0.01) and a tendency for CpO2 (R = −0.43, P = 0.07). We conclude that HH and NH tests are physiologically different and they must last 30 min. CpO2 is an important variable to predict AMS. For practical considerations, NH test is proposed to quantify AMS individual susceptibility using the formulas: AMSmax = 9.47 + 0.104PetO2(hPa)–0.68CpO2 (%), (R = 0.77, P = 0.001); and AMSmean = 3.91 + 0.059Δf + 0.438HCR–0.135CpO2 (R = 0.71, P = 0.017).

Keywords

Hypoxic tests Hypoxia Acute mountain sickness Altitude illnesses 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The contributions of subjects, especially the subjects of the Mountain Club of the ESSA LYON-BRON (Peru expedition) and the subjects participating in the expedition to Mera Peak, are acknowledged as well as the technical assistance of L. Vachez-Collomb, N. Piccarreta, J. Denis, N. Clerc and V. Leroux. We particularly thank Dr. P. Arvers for his important contribution for the revision of the statistical analysis.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gustave Savourey
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jean-Claude Launay
    • 1
  • Yves Besnard
    • 1
  • Angélique Guinet-Lebreton
    • 1
  • Antonia Alonso
    • 1
  • Fabien Sauvet
    • 1
  • Cyprien Bourrilhon
    • 2
  1. 1.Département des Facteurs humains, Pôle tolérance climatique et vêtementCentre de recherches du service de santé des arméesLa Tronche cedexFrance
  2. 2.Institut de médecine aérospatiale du service de santé des arméesBrétigny sur Orge cedexFrance

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