Changes in maximal performance of inspiratory and skeletal muscles during and after the 7.1-MPa Hydra 10 record human dive
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During the 7.1-MPa hydrogen-helium-oxygen record human dive, we tested the hypothesis that the increased ambient pressure would alter the maximal muscle performance, specifically that breathing dense gas would lead to fatigue of the respiratory muscle. A group of hand muscles (adductor pollicis, AP) and the inspiratory muscles (IM) were studied in three professional divers. Maximal voluntary contractions (MVC) of AP and maximal inspiratory pressure (Pimax) generated by IM were measured prior to the dive, during compression and decompression, and then 1 and 2 months after the dive. The decrease in MVC (−22%) was significant at 3.1 MPa, i.e. at the beginning of the introduction of hydrogen into the breathing mixture, whereas Pimax fell progressively during the dive and decompression (maximal ΔPimax = −55%), a significant reduction still being measured 1 month after the dive. The altered IM function was attributed to the consequences of long-term ventilatory loading, a condition associated with breathing a dense gas. The transient decrease in MVC of the skeletal muscle would indicate a possible effect of the hyperbaric environment, possibly the high partial pressure of hydrogen, on neuromuscular drive.
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