The Effect of Exposure to 35,000 ft on Incidence of Altitude Decompression Sickness
Journal article, Feb 1995-Aug 1998
WYLE LABS LIFE SCIENCES AND SERVICES INC SAN ANTONIO TX
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Exposure to 35,000 ft without preoxygenation, breathing 100 oxygen prior to decompression, can result in severe decompression sickness DCS. Exercise while decompressed increases the incidence and severity of symptoms. Clarification of the level of activity versus time to symptom onset is needed to refine recommendations for current operations requiring 35,000-ft exposures. Currently, the USAF limits these operations to 30 min following 75 min of preoxygenation. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of exercise intensity on DCS incidence and severity at 35,000 ft. Following 75 or 90 min of ground-level preoxygenation, 54 male and 38 female subjects were exposed to 35,000 ft for 3 hours while performing strenuous exercise, mild exercise, or seated rest. The subjects were monitored for venous gas emboli VGE with an echo-imaging system and observed for signs and symptoms of DCS. Results. Exposures involving strenuous and mild exercise resulted in higher incidence P .05 and earlier onset of symptoms P .05 of DCS than exposure at rest. Mild and strenuous exercise during exposure did not differ in incidence or rate of onset. Incidence at 30 min of exposure was 8 at rest and 23 while exercising. The results showed that current guidelines for 35,000-ft exposures keep DCS risk below 10 at rest. Exercise, even at mild levels, greatly increases the incidence and rate of onset of DCS.
- Stress Physiology