Breathing He-O2 increases ventilation but does not decrease the work of breathing during exercise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


We previously observed an increase in minute ventilation (V̇E) with resistive unloading (He-O2 breathing) in healthy elderly subjects with normal pulmonary function. To investigate the effects of resistive unloading in elderly subjects with mild chronic airflow limitation (FEV1/FVC: 61 ± 4%), we studied 10 elderly men and women 70 ± 3 yr of age. These subjects performed graded cycle ergometry to exhaustion, once breathing room air and once breathing a He-O2 gas mixture (79% He, 21% O2). V̇E, pulmonary mechanics, and PETCO2 were measured during each 1-min increment in work rate. Data were analyzed by paired t test at rest, at ventilator/threshold (VTh), and during maximal exercise. V̇E was significantly (p < 0.05) increased at VTh (3.4 ± 4.0 L/min or 12 ± 15% increase) and maximal exercise (15.2 ± 9.7 L/min or 22 ± 13% increase) while breathing He-O2. Concomitant to the increase in V̇E, PETCO2 was decreased at all levels (p < 0.01), whereas total work of breathing against the lung was not different. We concluded that V̇E is increased during He-O2 breathing because of resistive unloading of the airways and the maintenance of the relationship between the work of breathing and exercise work rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1128-1134
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Breathing He-O2 increases ventilation but does not decrease the work of breathing during exercise'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this