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Chest. 1991 Feb;99(2):452-6.

Effect of cardiac output reduction on rate of desaturation in obstructive apnea.

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Department of Medicine, VA Medical Center, Houston 77030-4298.


The nadir of SaO2 during an obstructive apnea is dependent upon the apnea's duration and the rate of fall of saturation (dSaO2/dt). We postulated that a low Q, such as in patients with congestive heart failure with sleep apnea, or a reduction in Q, as seen in some humans during obstructive sleep apnea, might steepen dSaO2/dt. The mechanism postulated was lowering of SvO2 with increased pulmonary capillary blood oxygen uptake and faster depletion of alveolar oxygen. This study examines dSaO2/dt following the onset of apnea in eight spontaneously breathing adult baboons. Nonrepetitive obstructive apneas (30, 45, and 60 seconds) were created by clamping an indwelling cuffed endotracheal tube at the end of expiration. Following baseline measurements, the animals were given a bolus of a rapid-acting beta-adrenergic blocker followed by continuous infusion to reduce cardiac output and to limit the cardiovascular response to obstructive asphyxia. Fiberoptic catheters were used for continuous monitoring of SaO2, SvO2, and cardiac output. Esophageal pressure and relative thoracic gas volume (Respitrace) were monitored to insure equivalence of lung volume at the onset of apnea. Beta-adrenergic blockade reduced resting Q by a mean of 25 percent. The blocked vs unblocked dSaO2/dt was 0.73 vs 0.72 percent/s, 0.76 vs 0.73 percent/s, and 0.70 vs 0.71 percent/s for 30-second, 45-second, and 60-second apneas, respectively. Thus, mean dSaO2/dt for all durations of apneas was unaffected by beta-adrenergic blockade. We concluded that dSaO2/dt is not influenced by limited Q preceding or induced by obstructive asphyxia.

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