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The control of breathing at high altitude

Milledge, J.S. (1968)
M.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

The changes in the control of breathing in man at high altitude have been studied at 5,800 m (19,000 ft). The differences between 1owlanders and Sherpas were compared at 4,880 m (16,000 ft.). Ventilatory response to C0\(_2\), hypoxia and exercise were studied, and acid-base status of the blood and CSF measured.
Acclimatization to altitude is characterized by a shift of the C0\(_2\) response curve to the left and an increase in its slope. The hypoxic sensitivity appears unchanged. On moderate exercise there results a progressive increase in ventilatory equivalent with increasing altitude. At maximum work rate ventilation increases more rapidly due to falling Sao\(_2\).
Sherpas show no significant difference in response to C0\(_2\) but a remarkable lack of response to hypoxia. The C0\(_2\) response showed little change in slope with change of P0 \(_2\) and on exercise acutely changing PO\(_2\)had little effect on ventilation. Sherpas ventilate less on exercise and have higher maximum 0\(_2\) intakes per kg than lowlanders.
The arterial pH of highlanders is normal whereas in lowlanders it remains slightly elevated after k-6 weeks at altitude. CSF pH of highlanders is about 0.04 units more acid than lowlanders at the same altitude, indicating a greater central contribution to respiratory drive and a reduced peripheral component. The role of anaerobic cerebral metabolism in respiratory acclimatization is discussed.

Type of Work:M.D. thesis.
School/Faculty:Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry
Department:Department of Medicine
Subjects:R Medicine (General)
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:4510
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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