Conference proceedings article

Altitude attenuates apnea-induced increase in haemoglobin concentration


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Author list: Richardson, Matthew;Schagatay, Erika

Publication year: 2007


INTRODUCTION During apnea at sea-level, a contraction of the spleen is found in humans (Hurford et al 1990) causing a transient increase in hemoglobin concentration (Hb) and hematocrit (Schagatay et al 2001). The development of these increases is progressive across 3 serial apneas, typically resulting in Hb increases of 2% (Richardson et al, 2003), and recovery to pre-apneic values within 8-9 minutes (Schagatay et al 2005). The spleen contraction-associated Hb increase is in part triggered by the hypoxia occurring during apnea (Richardson et al 2005). The Hb increase leads to increased blood gas storage capacity which facilitates prolonged apnea in humans and may be responsible for the known prolongation of serial apneas (Schagatay et al 2001). At altitude, we suggest that the chronic hypoxia could induce splenic contraction during eupnea in humans, as previously observed in mice (Cook and Alafi 1956). Our aim was to reveal whether spleen related Hb increase occurs during eupneic altitude exposure in humans, thereby abolishing the Hb increase normally seen during apnea.


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