Arterial blood gas reference values for sea level and an altitude of 1,400 meters

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1999 Nov;160(5 Pt 1):1525-31. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.160.5.9806006.


Blood gas measurements were collected on healthy lifetime nonsmokers at sea level (n = 96) and at an altitude of 1,400 meters (n = 243) to establish reference equations. At each study site, arterial blood samples were analyzed in duplicate on two separate blood gas analyzers and CO-oximeters. Arterial blood gas variables included Pa(O(2)), Pa(CO(2)), pH, and calculated alveolar-arterial PO(2) difference (AaPO(2)). CO-oximeter variables were Hb, COHb, MetHb, and Sa(O(2)). Subjects were 18 to 81 yr of age with 166 male and 173 female. Outlier data were excluded from multiple regression analysis, and reference equations were fitted to the data in two ways: (1) best fit using linear, squared, and cross-product terms; (2) simple equations, including only the variables that explained at least 3% of the variance. Two sets of equations were created: (1) using only the sea level data and (2) using the combined data with barometric pressure as an independent variable. Comparisons with earlier studies revealed small but significant differences; the decline in Pa(O(2)) with age at each altitude was consistent with most previous studies. At sea level, the equation that included barometric pressure predicted Pa(O(2)) slightly better than the sea level specific equation. The inclusion of barometric pressure in the equations allows better prediction of blood gas reference values at sea level and at altitudes as high as 1,400 meters.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / blood
  • Air Pressure
  • Altitude*
  • Blood Gas Analysis
  • Carbon Dioxide / blood*
  • Female
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen / blood*
  • Reference Values


  • Hemoglobins
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Oxygen