Effect of voluntary respiratory efforts on breath-holding time

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2007 Aug 1;157(2-3):290-4. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2007.01.014. Epub 2007 Jan 30.


Introduction: Near the end of a maximal voluntary breath-hold, re-inhalation of the expired gas allows an additional period of breath-holding, indicating that the breaking point does not depend solely on chemical drive. We hypothesized that afferents from respiratory muscle and/or chest wall are significant in breath-holding.

Methods: Nineteen normal adults breathed room air through a mouthpiece connected to a pneumotachograph and were instructed to breath-hold with and without voluntary regular respiratory efforts against an occluded airway.

Results: Fifty one trials with and 53 without respiratory efforts were analyzed. The mean number of efforts per minute was 19+/-2.3 and the mean lowest airway pressure (P(aw)) -16.6+/-5.4 cmH(2)O. Breath-holding time (BHT) did not differ without (33.0+/-18.2 s) and with (29.3+/-12.3 s) efforts. In five patients arterial blood gasses were measured before and at the end of breath-holding and they did not differ between trials without and with efforts, indicating similar chemical drive. Our results suggest that afferents from respiratory muscle and/or chest wall are not the major determinants of BHT.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Respiration*
  • Respiratory Function Tests*
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiology
  • Time Factors