Ventilation-perfusion (VA/Q) mismatch has been shown to increase during exercise, especially in hypoxia. A possible explanation is subclinical interstitial edema due to high pulmonary capillary pressures. We hypothesized that this may be pathogenetically similar to high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) so that HAPE-susceptible people with higher vascular pressures would develop more exercise-induced VA/Q mismatch. To examine this, seven healthy people with a history of HAPE and nine with similar altitude exposure but no HAPE history (control) were studied at rest and during exercise at 35, 65, and 85% of maximum 1) at sea level and then 2) after 2 days at altitude (3,810 m) breathing both normoxic (inspired Po2 = 148 Torr) and hypoxic (inspired Po2 = 91 Torr) gas at both locations. We measured cardiac output and respiratory and inert gas exchange. In both groups, VA/Q mismatch (assessed by log standard deviation of the perfusion distribution) increased with exercise. At sea level, log standard deviation of the perfusion distribution was slightly higher in the HAPE-susceptible group than in the control group during heavy exercise. At altitude, these differences disappeared. Because a history of HAPE was associated with greater exercise-induced VA/Q mismatch and higher pulmonary capillary pressures, our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that exercise-induced mismatch is due to a temporary extravascular fluid accumulation.
- Copyright © 1996 the American Physiological Society