Diaphragm activity in obesity

J Clin Invest. 1969 Sep;48(9):1609-14. doi: 10.1172/JCI106126.


DIAPHRAGM ACTIVITY DURING CARBON DIOXIDE BREATHING AND TOTAL CHEST COMPLIANCE DURING DIAPHRAGM RELAXATION WERE MEASURED IN EIGHT OBESE SUBJECTS: four with normal blood gases and four with hypercapnia and hypoxemia. Whereas there were no significant differences in the values of total chest compliance between the two groups, there were marked differences in diaphragm activity. The increase in integrated electrical activity in the diaphragm, per millimeter increment in carbon dioxide tension in the arterial blood, averaged 66 units (range: 48-90) in the obese-normal subjects and 17 units (range: 12-22) in the obese-hypoventilation subjects. These results suggest that an incapacity to increase the activity in the respiratory muscles, to levels necessary to overcome the load caused by obesity, plays a major role in the genesis of respiratory failure in obese subjects.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Diaphragm / physiopathology*
  • Elasticity
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercapnia / physiopathology
  • Hypoventilation / etiology
  • Hypoventilation / physiopathology
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscles / physiopathology
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory System / physiopathology
  • Spirometry


  • Carbon Dioxide