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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1991 Dec;23(12):1349-52.

Muscle mass effect on arterial desaturation after maximal exercise.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine B, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.


We measured arterial oxygen saturation before and immediately after randomly allocated 6 min of "all-out" maximal arm cranking, treadmill running, and ergometer rowing in 10 men and women with a median maximal oxygen uptake of 4.47 (range 3.22-5.34) 1.min-1. Arterial saturation for oxygen was unaltered after arm cranking, but decreased 1.7 (-2.5-6.0) % (P less than 0.05) after running, and 2.2 (1.0-8.7) % (P less than 0.01) after rowing. Arterial saturation was inversely related to capillary blood lactate, which reached 11.8 (7.4-14.0), 12.6 (8.9-18 2), and 14.3 (12.0-19.3) mmol.l-1 (P less than 0.01), respectively, and arterial bicarbonate fell to 15.0 (13.0-23.6), 12.4 (7.2-20.4), and 10.8 (0.0-12.5) mmol.l-1 (P less than 0.01). Thus, pH decreased to 7.25 (7.22-7.40), 7.17 (6.95-7.35), and 7.09 (6.84-7.19) (P less than 0.01). When measured immediately post-exercise, arterial oxygen tension was unchanged or elevated from rest, eliminating the possibility that the arterial desaturation was caused by a pulmonary diffusion limitation. The results of this investigation show that arterial desaturation associated with maximal exercise takes place in proportion to the involved muscle mass, as do deviations in blood lactate, bicarbonate, and hydrogen concentrations.

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