Effects of reduced frequency breathing on arterial hypoxemia during exercise

Summary

It is uncertain that exercise with reduced frequency breathing (RFB) results in arterial hypoxemia. This study was designed to investigate whether RFB during exercise creates a true hypoxic condition in arterial blood by examining arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2) directly. Six subjects performed ten 30 s periods of exercise on a Monark bicycle ergometer at a work rate of 210 W alternating with 30 s rest intervals. The breath was controlled to use 1 s each for inspiration and expiration, and two trials with different breathing patterns were used; a continuous breathing (CB) trial and an RFB trial consisting of four seconds of breath-holding at functional residual capacity (FRC). Alveolar oxygen pressure during exercise showed a slight but significant (p<0.05) reduction with RFB as compared to CB. However, a marked increase in alveolar-arterial pressure difference for oxygen (A-aDO2) (p<0.05) with RFB over CB resulted in a marked (p<0.05) reduction in arterial oxygen pressure. Consequently, SaO2 fell as low as 88.8% on average. Additional examination of RFB with breath-holding at total lung capacity showed no increases in A-aDO2 in spite of the same amount of hypoventilation as compared with that at FRC. These results indicate that RFB during exercise can result in arterial hypoxemia if RFB is performed with breath-holding at FRC, this mechanism being closely related to the mechanical responses due to lung volume restriction.

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Correspondence to Y. Yamamoto.

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Yamamoto, Y., Mutoh, Y., Kobayashi, H. et al. Effects of reduced frequency breathing on arterial hypoxemia during exercise. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 56, 522–527 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00635364

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Key words

  • Reduced frequency breathing
  • Arterial hypoxemia
  • Exercise