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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1991 Jun;70(6):2650-5.

Cardiovascular adaptations in Andean natives after 6 wk of exposure to sea level.

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  • 1Department of Sport Science, Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Six male Quechua Indians (34.0 +/- 1.1 yr, 159.5 +/- 2.1 cm, 60.5 +/- 1.6 kg), life-long residents of La Raya, Peru (4,350-m altitude with an average barometric pressure of 460 Torr), were studied using noninvasive methods to determine the structural and functional changes in the cardiovascular system in response to a 6-wk deacclimation period at sea level. Cardiac output, stroke volume, and left ventricular ejection fractions were determined using radionuclide angiographic techniques at rest and during exercise on a cycle ergometer at 40, 60, and 90% of a previously determined maximal O2 consumption. Subjects at rest were subjected to two-dimensional and M-mode echocardiograms and a standard 12-lead electrocardiogram. Hemoglobin and hematocrit were measured on arrival at sea level by use of a Coulter Stacker S+ analyzer. After a 6-wk deacclimation period, all variables were remeasured using the identical methodology. Hemoglobin values decreased significantly over the deacclimation period (15.7 +/- 1.1 to 13.5 +/- 1.2 g/dl; P less than 0.01). The results indicate that the removal of these high-altitude-adapted natives from 4,300 m to sea level for 6 wk results in only minor changes to the cardiac structure and function as measured by these noninvasive techniques.

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