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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Sustained sympathetic activity in altitude acclimatizing lowlanders and high-altitude natives

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Combined results from different independent studies suggest that acclimatization to high altitude induces a slowly developing sympathetic activation, even at levels of hypoxia that cause no acute chemoreflex-mediated sympathoexcitation. We here provide direct neurophysiological evidence for this phenomenon. In eight Danish lowlanders, we quantified mean arterial blood pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR), and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA), twice at sea level (normoxia and with acute hypoxic exposure to 12.6% O2 ) and twice at high altitude (after 10 and 50 days of exposure to 4100 m). Measurements were also obtained in eight Bolivian highlanders on one occasion at high altitude. Acute hypoxic exposure caused no increase in MSNA (15 ± 2 vs 16 ± 2 bursts per min, respectively, and also MAP and HR remained stable). In contrast, from sea level to 10 and 50 days in high-altitude increases were observed in MAP: 72 ± 2 vs 78 ± 2 and 75 ± 2 mm Hg; HR: 54 ± 3 vs 67 ± 3 and 65 ± 3 beats per min; MSNA: 15 ± 2 vs 42 ± 5 and 42 ± 5 bursts per min, all P < .05. Bolivian subjects had high levels of MSNA: 34 ± 4 bursts per min. The simultaneous increase in MAP, HR, and MSNA suggests high altitude-induced sympathetic activity, which is sustained in well-acclimatized lowlanders. The high MSNA levels in the Bolivian highlanders suggest lifelong sympathetic activation at high altitude.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports
Volume28
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)854-861
Number of pages8
ISSN0905-7188
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

    Research areas

  • Acclimatization/physiology, Adult, Altitude, Blood Pressure, Bolivia, Carbon Dioxide/blood, Denmark, Female, Heart Rate, Humans, Hypoxia, Male, Muscle, Skeletal/physiology, Oxygen/blood, Sympathetic Nervous System/physiology, Young Adult

ID: 56597248