The relationship of metabolic heat production to skin and core temperatures, cutaneous heat flow, and respiratory heat loss was measured in 10 male subjects cooled in hyperbaric helium at 20.7 ATA and 15 or 20 degrees C for 60-120 min. Under these conditions, metabolic heat production tended to compensate for the sum of convective and radiant heat losses from the skin but did not increase sufficiently to compensate for additional respiratory heat losses. There was a positive correlation between respiratory heat loss and fall in rectal temperature. Individual variability in ventilatory response to cold hyperbaric helium exposure as shown by a wide range of minute ventilation-to-oxygen consumption ratios (VE/VO2) was similar to that reported during cold water immersion. Subjects with high VE/VO2 had low mean physiological shell insulation values and lost more heat through the skin as well as through the respiratory tract than subjects with low VE/VO2.
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