Pulmonary oedema following exercise in humans

Sports Med. 2006;36(6):501-12. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200636060-00004.


Pulmonary physiologists have documented many transient changes in the lung and the respiratory system during and following exercise, including the incomplete oxygen saturation of arterial blood in some subjects, possibly due to transient pulmonary oedema. The large increase in pulmonary arterial pressure during exercise, leading to either increased pulmonary capillary leakage and/or pulmonary capillary stress failure, is likely to be responsible for any increase in extravascular lung water during exercise. The purpose of this article is to summarise the studies to date that have specifically examined lung water following exercise. A limited number of studies have been completed with the specific purpose of identifying pulmonary oedema following exercise or a similar intervention. Of these, approximately 50% have observed a positive change and the remaining have provided results that are either inconclusive or show no change in extravascular lung water. While it is difficult to draw a firm conclusion from these studies, we believe that pulmonary oedema does occur in some humans following exercise. As such, this is a phenomenon of significance to pulmonary and exercise physiologists. This possibility warrants further study in the area with more precise measurement tools than has previously been undertaken.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Edema / etiology*
  • Pulmonary Edema / physiopathology