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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The pulmonary profile of competitive swimmers Labreche, Jane Marie


Purpose: The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the nature of the following conditions in competitive swimmers: the occurrence of exercise-induced arterial hypoxemia (EIAH), and the relationship to gender and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) (Study 1), and the development of exercise-induced pulmonary edema (PE), and changes in oxyhemoglobin saturation (Study 2). Methods: Study 1: Twenty-one well-trained swimmers (10 male, 11 female) completed a eucapnic voluntary hyperpnea test and an incremental swim test to exhaustion with pre and post-exercise spirometry. Metabolic data (VO₂, VCO₂, ventilation and heart rate) along with oxyhemoglobin saturation (SpO₂) were collected throughout exercise. Study 2: Baseline lung density was obtained in eight well-trained male swimmers using computerized tomography after 24 hours rest. After a standard warm-up, subjects performed 6 x 50m maximal effort intervals on 90 s. Oxyhemoglobin saturation (SpO₂) and heart rate were collected across exercise intervals. Scans were repeated at 45-60 min post-exercise. Results: Study 1: Eleven of the twenty-one subjects tested positive for EIB. No subjects fulfilled our criteria for EIAH (SpO₂ ≤95% or ≥3% drop from resting values) despite a small mean drop in SpO₂ from rest to maximal exercise in both males and females. There was no correlation between EIAH and EIB (p=0.21). Study 2: For the duration of the intervals, mean saturation levels remained close to resting values. Mean lung density significantly increased (p<0.05) from pre to post-exercise, with no significant changes in lung volume between scans (p=0.28). Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the swimming environment provides some protection against the development of EIAH in this population regardless of sex or presence of EIB. Furthermore, the development of pulmonary edema does occur and appears to be independent from oxyhemoglobin saturation. These results are likely attributable to the physiological response to water immersion and the horizontal body position associated with this form of exercise.

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