Voluntary hyperventilation in obesity hypoventilation

Chest. 1991 Nov;100(5):1334-8. doi: 10.1378/chest.100.5.1334.


Arterial blood gas analysis was performed before and after 60 to 90 s of voluntary hyperventilation in 27 consecutive patients with occlusive sleep apnea syndrome (OSA) and daytime hypercapnia. The percentage of fall in PaCO2 from baseline was examined in relationship to age, body mass index, sleep-disordered breathing indices, and pulmonary function variables. In 14 subjects without airflow obstruction, only one individual could not voluntarily hyperventilate into the normal range, whereas 6 of 13 subjects with airflow obstruction could not hyperventilate to eucapnia. The average percentage of fall in PaCO2 was 16 mm Hg (SEM = 1.3 mm Hg). The percentage of fall in PaCO2 correlated significantly with FEV1/FVC ratio (r = 0.47, p = 0.01) and with FEV1 (r = 0.5, p = 0.008). Although the baseline PaCO2 did not correlate with FEV1, the posthyperventilation PaCO2 did (r = 0.54, p = 0.003). Voluntary hyperventilation studies herein suggest a predominant role for impairment of ventilatory control in the maintenance of hypercapnia in OSA since a fall of PaCO2 into the normal range can usually be obtained. The correlation between the percentage of fall in PaCO2 and spirometric measures of respiratory mechanics, as well as the inability of some subjects to normalize the PaCO2 voluntarily suggests an added role for respiratory mechanical impairment in obesity hypoventilation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Airway Obstruction / complications
  • Airway Obstruction / physiopathology
  • Blood Gas Analysis
  • Body Mass Index
  • Carbon Dioxide / blood
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Hyperventilation / physiopathology*
  • Hypoventilation / complications
  • Hypoventilation / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / complications
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Vital Capacity


  • Carbon Dioxide