Improved Pulmonary Function in Working Divers Breathing Nitrox at Shallow Depths
Authors: Fitzpatrick, Daniel T.; Conkin, Johnny
Source: Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, Volume 74, Number 7, July 2003 , pp. 763-767(5)
Publisher: Aerospace Medical Association
Abstract:Fitzpatrick DT, Conkin J. Improved pulmonary function in working divers breathing nitrox at shallow depths. Aviat Space Environ Med 2003; 74:763–67.
Introduction: There is limited data about the long-term pulmonary effects of nitrox use in divers at shallow depths. This study examined changes in pulmonary function in a cohort of working divers breathing a 46% oxygen enriched mixture while diving at depths less than 12 m. Methods: A total of 43 working divers from the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL), NASA-Johnson Space Center completed a questionnaire providing information on diving history prior to NBL employment, diving history outside the NBL since employment, and smoking history. Cumulative dive hours were obtained from the NBL dive-time database. Medical records were reviewed to obtain the diver’s height, weight, and pulmonary function measurements from initial pre-dive, first year and third year annual medical examinations. Results: The initial forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) were greater than predicted, 104% and 102%, respectively. After 3 yr of diving at the NBL, both the FVC and FEV1 showed a significant (p < 0.01) increase of 6.3% and 5.5%, respectively. There were no significant changes in peak expiratory flow (PEF), forced mid-expiratory flow rate (FEF25–75%), and forced expiratory flow rates at 25%, 50%, and 75% of FVC expired (FEF25%, FEF50%, FEF75%). Cumulative NBL dive hours was the only contributing variable found to be significantly associated with both FVC and FEV1 at 1 and 3 yr. Conclusions: NBL divers initially belong to a select group with larger than predicted lung volumes. Regular diving with nitrox at shallow depths over a 3-yr period did not impair pulmonary function. Improvements in FVC and FEV1 were primarily due to a training effect.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: July 2003
- The peer-reviewed monthly journal, Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine (ASEM) provides contact with physicians, life scientists, bioengineers, and medical specialists working in both basic medical research and in its clinical applications. It is the most used and cited journal in its field. ASEM is distributed to more than 80 nations.
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