European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 101, Issue 1, pp 125–132 | Cite as

Hematological response and diving response during apnea and apnea with face immersion

  • Erika SchagatayEmail author
  • Johan P. A. Andersson
  • Bodil Nielsen
Original Article


Increased hematocrit (Hct) attributable to splenic contraction accompanies human apneic diving or apnea with face immersion. Apnea also causes heart rate reduction and peripheral vasoconstriction, i.e., a cardiovascular diving response, which is augmented by face immersion. The aim was to study the role of apnea and facial immersion in the initiation of the hematological response and to relate this to the cardiovascular diving response and its oxygen conservation during repeated apneas. Seven male volunteers performed two series of five apneas of fixed near-maximal duration: one series in air (A) and the other with facial immersion in 10°C water (FIA). Apneas were spaced by 2 min and series by 20 min of rest. Venous blood samples, taken before and after each apnea, were analysed for Hct, hemoglobin concentration (Hb), lactic acid, blood gases and pH. Heart rate, skin capillary blood flow and arterial oxygen saturation were continuously measured non-invasively. A transient increase of Hct and Hb by approximately 4% developed progressively across both series. As no increase of the response resulted with face immersion, we concluded that the apnea, or its consequences, is the major stimulus evoking splenic contraction. An augmented cardiovascular diving response occurred during FIA compared to A. Arterial oxygen saturation remained higher, venous oxygen stores were more depleted and lactic acid accumulation was higher across the FIA series, indicating oxygen conservation with the more powerful diving response. This study shows that the hematological response is not involved in causing the difference in oxygen saturation between apnea and apnea with face immersion.


Spleen contraction Hematocrit Oxygen conservation Face immersion Breath-hold 



We thank all the subjects for participating in the experiments and the laboratory personnel at the August Krogh Institute for assistance with measurements and blood analysis. The study was supported by grants from the Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports (CIF) and the Swedish defence research establishment (FOA).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erika Schagatay
    • 1
    Email author
  • Johan P. A. Andersson
    • 2
  • Bodil Nielsen
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Natural SciencesMid Sweden UniversitySundsvallSweden
  2. 2.Department of Cell and Organism BiologyLund UniversityLundSweden
  3. 3.Institute of Exercise and Sport SciencesUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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