Oxygen Transport during Exercise at Altitude

  • Paolo Cerretelli
Part of the Ettore Majorana International Science Series book series (EMISS, volume 3)


Maximal oxygen consumption \( ({\dot V_{{O_2}}}\max ) \) undergoes a progressive reduction in hypoxia both acute and chronic as appears from Fig. 1 where data from various authors are summarized. Such decrease, for a pressure drop of half an atmosphere (corresponding to an altitude of about 5500 meters) ranges between 30% and 45%, independent of the degree of acclimatization and of the ethnic characteristics of the sub.iects. Common factors known to change \( {\dot V_{{O_2}}}\max \) in opposite directions In hypoxia are:
  1. 1)

    The decreased arterial O 2 saturation (%HbO2) due to decreased \( {P_{{I_{{O_2}}}}} \) and possibly to an impairment of the diffusion property of the lung. The arterial oxygen and carbon dioxide partial pressures \( P{a_{{O_2}}}{\kern 1pt} and{\kern 1pt} P{a_{C{O_2}}} \) of resident highlanders as well as of acclimatized lowlanders are plotted as a function of altitude in Fig. 2, along with the corresponding HbO2 saturation values (HbO2). At a barometric pressure of 380 torr (5500 m) %HbO2 drops to about 80%.

  2. 2)

    The increased Blood hemoglobin (Hb) concentration. Hb concentration, after a prolonged exposure to 5500 m, may attain 130–140% of the sea level control value.



Oxygen Transport Chronic Hypoxia Acute Hypoxia Maximal Aerobic Power Altitude Exposure 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paolo Cerretelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of PhysiologyUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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