Experimental acute hypoxia in healthy subjects: evaluation of systolic and diastolic function of the left ventricle at rest and during exercise using echocardiography

T. Kullmer*, G. Kneissl, T. Katova, H. Kronenberger, A. Urhausen, W. Kindermann, W. März, J. Meier-Sydow

*Corresponding author for this work

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14 Citations (Scopus)


To clarify whether or not systolic and diastolic function of the human left ventricle (LV) were decreased during acute hypoxia, at rest and with exercise, 14 healthy male volunteers [age 25.9 (SD 3.0) years, height 182.9 (SD 7.1) cm, body mass 75.9 (SD 6.9)kg] were examined using M-mode and 2D-mode echocardiography to determine the systolic LV function as well as Doppler-echocardiography for the assessment of diastolic LV function on 2 separate test days. In random order, the subjects breathed either air on 1 day (N) or a gas mixture with reduced oxygen content on the other (H; oxygen fraction in inspired gas 0.14). Measurements on either day were made at rest, several times during incremental cycle exercise in a supine position (6-min increments of 50 W, maximal load 150 W) and in 6th min of recovery. Corresponding measurements during N and H were compared statistically. Arterial O2 tension (PaO2) was normal on N-day. All subjects showed a marked acute hypoxia at rest [PaO2, 54.5 (SD 4.6) mmHg], during exercise and recovery on H-day. The latter was associated with tachycardia compared to N-day. All echocardiographic measurements at rest were within the limits of normal values on both test days. Ejection time, end-systolic and end-diastolic left ventricular dimensions as well as the thickness of left posterior wall and of interventricular septum showed no statistically significant influence of H either at rest or during exercise. Stroke volume and cardiac output were always higher on H-day, which could be attributed to a slight reduction in end-systolic volume with unaffected end-diastolic volume as well as to increased heart rates. Among the indices of systolic LV function the fractions of thickening in the left ventricular posterior wall and interventricular septum showed no differences between H and N at rest or during exercise. However, fibre shortening, ejection fraction and mean circumferential fibre shortening were increased on H-day on all occasions. The mitral-valve-Doppler ratio, the index of diastolic LV function, was decreased with H at rest, showed a more pronounced reduction during exercise and was still lower in 6th min of recovery compared to N-day. It was concluded that with acute hypoxia of the severity applied in this study left ventricular systolic function in our healthy subjects showed a pronounced improvement and left ventricular diastolic function was reduced, both at rest and with exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-174
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute arterial hypoxia
  • Doppler echocardiography
  • Echocardiography
  • Left ventricle


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