Thermal tolerance following artificially induced polycythaemia

  • Mark J. Patterson
  • James D. Cotter
  • Nigel A. S. Taylor
Original Article


Polycythaemia has been shown to improve physical performance, possibly due to increased arterial oxygen transport. Enhanced thermoregulatory function may also accompany this manipulation, since a greater proportion of the cardiac output becomes available for heat dissipation. We further examined this possibility in five trained men, who participated in three-phase heat stress trials (20 min rest, 20 min cycling at 30% peak power Wpeak and 20 min at 45% Wpeak at 38.3 (SEM 0.7)°C [relative humidity 41.4 (SEM 2.9)%]. Trials were performed during normocythaemia (control) and polycythaemia, obtained by reinfusion of autologous red blood cells and resulting in significant elevation of arterial oxygen transport. During the polycythaemic trials, the subjects demonstrated diminished thermal strain, as evidenced by a significant reduction in cardiac frequency (fc: 12 beats · min−1 lower throughout the test;P < 0.05), and reduced auditory canal temperatures (Tae) during the latter 20-min phase (P < 0.05). Forearm sweat onset was more rapid (363.0 compared to 1083.0 s;P < 0.05), and forearm sweat rate (.msw) sensitivity was elevated from 1.80 to 2.91 · mg · cm−2 · min−1 · °C−1 (P < 0.05). Foreheadmsw was depressed during the final 20 min, while forearmmsw was greater during all test phases, averaging 0.94 and 1.20 mg · cm−2 · min−1, respectively, over the 60 min. Skin blood flows for the upper back, upper arm and forearm were reduced (P < 0.05). Polycythaemia enhanced thermoregulation, through an elevation in forearm sweat sensitivity and.msw, but not via increased cutaneous blood flow. These modifications occurred simultaneously with decreases infc andTae, resulting in greater thermal tolerance.

Key words

Core temperature Heat stress Polycythaemia Sweating Thermoregulation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark J. Patterson
    • 1
  • James D. Cotter
    • 1
  • Nigel A. S. Taylor
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical ScienceUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia

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