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The purpose of this study was twofold: 1) to determine whether at high altitude cerebral blood flow (CBF) as assessed during CO2 inhalation and during hyperventilation in subjects with acute mountain sickness (AMS) was different from that in subjects without AMS and 2) to compare the CBF as assessed under similar conditions in Sherpas at high altitude and in subjects at sea level. Resting control values of blood flow velocity in the middle cerebral artery ( V MCA), pulse oxygen saturation ([Formula: see text]), and transcutaneous [Formula: see text] were measured at 4,243 m in 43 subjects without AMS, 17 subjects with AMS, 20 Sherpas, and 13 subjects at sea level. Responses of CO2 inhalation and hyperventilation on V MCA,[Formula: see text], and transcutaneous[Formula: see text] were measured, and the cerebral vasomotor reactivity (VMR = Δ V MCA/[Formula: see text]) was calculated as the fractional change of V MCA per Torr change of [Formula: see text], yielding a hypercapnic VMR and a hypocapnic VMR. AMS subjects showed a significantly higher resting control V MCA than did no-AMS subjects (74 ± 22 and 56 ± 14 cm/s, respectively; P < 0.001), and[Formula: see text] was significantly lower (80 ± 8 and 88 ± 3%, respectively; P < 0.001). Resting control V MCA values in the sea-level group (60 ± 15 cm/s), in the no-AMS group, and in Sherpas (59 ± 13 cm/s) were not different. Hypercapnic VMR values in AMS subjects were 4.0 ± 4.4, in no-AMS subjects were 5.5 ± 4.3, in Sherpas were 5.6 ± 4.1, and in sea-level subjects were 5.6 ± 2.5 (not significant). Hypocapnic VMR values were significantly higher in AMS subjects (5.9 ± 1.5) compared with no-AMS subjects (4.8 ± 1.4; P < 0.005) but were not significantly different between Sherpas (3.8 ± 1.1) and the sea-level group (2.8 ± 0.7). We conclude that AMS subjects have greater cerebral hemodynamic responses to hyperventilation, higher V MCAresting control values, and lower[Formula: see text] compared with no-AMS subjects. Sherpas showed a cerebral hemodynamic pattern similar to that of normal subjects at sea level.

Original publication





Journal of Applied Physiology


American Physiological Society

Publication Date





681 - 686