Normobaric hypoxia (NH) is used as a surrogate for hypobaric hypoxia (HH). Recent studies reported physiological differences between NH and HH. Baroreflex sensitivity (BRS) decreases at altitude or following intense training. However, until now no study compared the acute and chronic changes of BRS in NH vs. HH. First, BRS was assessed in 13 healthy male subjects prior and after 20 h of exposure at 3450 m (study 1), and second in 15 well-trained athletes prior and after 18 days of "live-high train-low" (LHTL) at 2250 m (study 2) in NH vs. HH. BRS decreased (p < 0.05) to the same extent in NH and HH after 20 h of hypoxia and after LHTL. These results confirm that altitude decreases BRS but the decrease is similar between HH and NH. The persistence of this decrease after the cessation of a chronic exposure is new and does not differ between HH and NH. The previously reported physiological differences between NH and HH do not appear strong enough to induce different BRS responses.
Keywords: Altitude; Baroreflex; Hypobaric hypoxia; LHTL; Normobaric hypoxia.