The purpose of this study was 1) to test the hypothesis that ventilation and arterial oxygen saturation (Sa(O2)) during acute hypoxia may increase during intermittent hypoxia and remain elevated for a week without hypoxic exposure and 2) to clarify whether the changes in ventilation and Sa(O2) during hypoxic exercise are correlated with the change in hypoxic chemosensitivity. Six subjects were exposed to a simulated altitude of 4,500 m altitude for 7 days (1 h/day). Oxygen uptake (VO2), expired minute ventilation (VE), and Sa(O2) were measured during maximal and submaximal exercise at 432 Torr before (Pre), after intermittent hypoxia (Post), and again after a week at sea level (De). Hypoxic ventilatory response (HVR) was also determined. At both Post and De, significant increases from Pre were found in HVR at rest and in ventilatory equivalent for O2 (VE/VO2) and Sa(O2) during submaximal exercise. There were significant correlations among the changes in HVR at rest and in VE/VO2 and Sa(O2) during hypoxic exercise during intermittent hypoxia. We conclude that 1 wk of daily exposure to 1 h of hypoxia significantly improved oxygenation in exercise during subsequent acute hypoxic exposures up to 1 wk after the conditioning, presumably caused by the enhanced hypoxic ventilatory chemosensitivity.
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