Comparative assessment of healthy subjects' lung function on the ground and in water

Measuring respiratory function provides essential information to assess pulmonary changes. Effects of water hydrostatic pressure on the submerged chest cause changes in the respiratory system. The purpose here was to compare respiratory function variables - minute volume (MV), tidal volume (TV), vital capacity (Vitalc), and respiratory rate (RR) - on the ground and with chest submerged in water. Respiratory function of 30 healthy female volunteers (mean age 20.93 ± 2.11; weight 58.8±9.2 kg; body mass index 21.78±2.63 kg/m²) was assessed by spirometry on the ground, and 1 and 20 minutes after immersion in warm water at shoulder level in the sitting position. As compared to ground levels, statistically significant increases were found in MV (p=0.015) and TV (p=0.027) 20 minutes after immersion, as well as a significant decrease (p=0.016) in Vitalc one minute after immersion. Longer time immersion has thus altered values obtained on ground, except for Vitalc, which showed significant reduction on the first minute after chest immersion. Comparison between variable values obtained 1 and 20 minutes in water showed no significant difference. It may thus be said that chest submersion in warm water caused an increase in MV and VT and a decrease in Vitalc of healthy subjects.

Immersion; Lung volume measurements; Respiratory function tests; Vital capacity


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