Blood pressure and heart rate during periodic breathing while asleep at high altitude

Giuseppe Insalaco, Salvatore Romano, Adriana Salvaggio, Alberto Braghiroli, Paola Lanfranchi, Vincenzo Patruno, Oreste Marrone, Maria R. Bonsignore, Claudio F. Donner, Giovanni Bonsignore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ventilatory and arterial blood pressure (ABP) responses to isocapnic hypoxia during wakefulness progressively increased in normal subjects staying 4 wk at 5,050 m (Insalaco G, Romano S, Salvaggio A, Braghiroli A, Lanfranchi P, Patruno V, Donner CF, and Bonsignore G; J Appl Physiol 80: 1724-1730, 1996). In the same subjects (n = 5, age 28-34 yr) and expedition, nocturnal polysomnography with ABP and heart rate (HR) recordings were obtained during the 1st and 4th week to study the cardiovascular effects of phasic (i.e., periodic breathing-dependent) vs. tonic (i.e., acclimatization-dependent) hypoxia during sleep. Both ABP and HR fluctuated during non-rapid eye movement sleep periodic breathing. None of the subjects exhibited an ABP increase during the ventilatory phases that correlated with the lowest arterial oxygen saturation of the preceding pauses. Despite attenuation of hypoxemia, ABP and HR behaviors during sleep in the 4th wk were similar to those in the 1st wk. Because ABP during periodic breathing in the ventilatory phase increased similarly to the ABP response to progressive hypoxia during wakefulness, ABP variations during ventilatory phases may reflect ABP responsiveness to peripheral chemoreflex sensitivity rather than the absolute value of hypoxemia, suggesting a major tonic effect of hypoxia on cardiorespiratory control at high altitude.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)947-955
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Cardiovascular system
  • Hyperventilation
  • Hypobaric hypoxia
  • Respiratory pause

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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