Bronchoconstriction: a component of the 'diving response' in man

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1984;53(2):155-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00422579.


We have investigated the possibility that a bronchoconstriction accompanies the vagally-mediated bradycardia induced in man by immersion of the face in cold water. Forced expiratory flows (FEF) at 40% and 25% of vital capacity (VC) have been measured from partial flow-volume curves obtained during forced expirations starting at 70% VC. These were performed immediately after 15 s apnoea with or without face immersion, and compared with control expirations having the same volume history but without the preceding apnoea. Five of the 10 subjects showed evidence of a greater than 10% reduction in FEF, which averaged 17% (Fig. 2). Half the response was attributable to the apnoea alone and the other half, which was abolished by ipratropium, to cold face immersion (Fig. 3). This bronchoconstriction appears to be a new component of the 'diving response' in man, mediated, like the bradycardia, by vagal efferents.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Airway Resistance* / drug effects
  • Bronchi / physiology*
  • Cold Temperature
  • Diving*
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Ipratropium / pharmacology
  • Male


  • Ipratropium