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Decreased Breath Hold at Altitude

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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erixsparhawk

erixsparhawk

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Apr 17, 2021
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So, I just moved from sea level to 7,500 ft (2286m) of elevation. That is a reduction in atmospheric pressure from 101 kPa to 78 kPa. Effectively, a 22.7% reduction in oxygen availability. As you can imagine my max breath hold capability has dramatically reduced in this time period (45.3%) @ 3 days of acclimation!
Wondering if anyone has seen any research on what the expected performance drop would be? I would have hypothesized a 1:1 linear relationship.
It will also be interesting to see what breath hold times will be like at 15 and 30 days.
 
H

hansa123

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Feb 26, 2021
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Since the body is going to produce more EPO and red blood cells your performance will probably increase in the next weeks while the pressure is constant. However, as soon as you return to the sealevel you should notice improved performance to the prior level. Are you actually diving at that altitude right now?
 
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erixsparhawk

erixsparhawk

Member
Apr 17, 2021
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Since the body is going to produce more EPO and red blood cells your performance will probably increase in the next weeks while the pressure is constant. However, as soon as you return to the sealevel you should notice improved performance to the prior level. Are you actually diving at that altitude right now?
Not actually diving, just dry training.
 
dannyboy001

dannyboy001

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Jul 1, 2022
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Since the body is going to produce more EPO and red blood cells your performance will probably increase in the next weeks while the pressure is constant. However, as soon as you return to the sealevel you should notice improved performance to the prior level. Are you actually diving at that altitude right now?
Exactly; although you are likely to have a reduction in performance due to the lower partial pressure of o2 your body will compensate in several ways including changes to the components of blood. Give it at least a couple of weeks and you should see a positive result in performance.

Bear in mind that at sea level where the partial pressure of oxygen is higher - carbon dioxide levels in the blood are the main driving force for the desire to breath (in situations where people want to suppress their reflex to breath - hyperventilation is sometimes used - as such CO2 levels in the blood reduce and the desire to breath decreases).
However where altitude is enough to cause significant hypoxia - you are likely to have a reduced level of CO2 in your blood. This is due to significant hypoxia triggering hyperventilation. Unfortunately hyperventilation doesn't have a big effect on the levels of oxygen level in the blood (as the fraction of inspired oxygen is constant). However with hyperventilation you will quite literally "breath off" more CO2 and therefore a reduction in blood CO2 will be seen.

This is true for the initial time period at altitude. As days and weeks go on, as mentioned earlier, your body will make physiological changes to increase oxygen to organs. As this improves the previous hypoxia induced hyperventilation will decrease - this will lead to blood CO2 levels rising back towards similar levels you would have had at sea level.

Please note in this context I have used the word hyperventilation to describe an increased rate of breathing compared to what would be normal for you at sea level (I do not mean a respiratory rate of over 20 per minute).
Also at the altitude you state the level of hypoxia will only be mild. As such the rate and extent of physiological change would no be as dramatic as being at 5000meters - hence why I said give it at LEAST a couple of weeks!
 
dannyboy001

dannyboy001

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Jul 1, 2022
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Also when I said performance I meant overall cardiorespiratory function rather than duration of breathhold.
If hypoxia is currently playing a role in the limitation of your breath hold duration you should still see a position improvement as your body adapts.
However once your body has adapted, unless you purposefully hyperventilate prior to breath holding (not recommended unless you understand the dangers of this) then it is likely that higher levels of blood co2 at the end of the hold will cause the urge to breath again.
 
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