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Clinical Investigations: DYSPNEA |

Hypoxic and Hypercapnic Breathlessness in Patients With Type I Diabetes Mellitus*

Giorgio Scano, MD, FCCP; Mario Filippelli, MD; Isabella Romagnoli, MD; Marco Mancini, MD; Gianni Misuri, MD; Roberto Duranti, MD; Elisabetta Rosi, MD
Author and Funding Information

*From the Fondazione Don C. Gnocchi (Drs. Scano, Filippelli, Mancini, and Misuri), Pozzolatico ONLUS, Florence; and the Department of Internal Medicine (Drs. Romagnoli, Duranti, and Rosi), Section of Clinical Immunology and Respiratory Disease, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.

Correspondence to: Giorgio Scano, MD, FCCP, Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Immunoallergology and Respiratory Disease, University of Florence, Viale Morgagni, 85, 50134 Firenze, Italy; e-mail: r.duranti@dfc.unifi.it



Chest. 2000;117(4):960-967. doi:10.1378/chest.117.4.960
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Study objectives: The putative role of the performance of inspiratory muscles and breathing pattern in inducing dyspnea has been recently assessed during hypoxic stimulation in patients with type I diabetes (IDDM). Compared to a hypoxic stimulus, a hypercapnic stimulus, which may differently affect the pattern of breathing, could therefore modulate the coupling between respiratory effort and ventilatory output, which is involved in dyspnea sensation.

Subjects: Eight stable patients aged 19 to 48 years old, with IDDM (duration of disease, 36 to 240 months) and no smoking history, cardiopulmonary involvement, or autonomic neuropathy; and an age- and sex-matched control group.

Measurements: Pulmonary volumes, diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide, time and volume components (tidal volume [Vt] and respiratory frequency), dynamic elastance (Eldyn), and swings in pleural pressure (Pessw) were measured. Maximal inspiratory pleural pressure (Pes) during a maximal sniff maneuver (Pessn), respiratory muscle effort or output (Pessw%Pessn), tension time index (Tti) = Ti/total breathing cycle time × Pessw(%Pessn), and swing in Pes during Vt as a percentage of Pessn were also evaluated. Dyspnea sensation was assessed by a modified Borg scale. Subjects were studied at baseline and during hypoxic and hypercapnic rebreathing tests.

Results: Compared to control subjects, patients exhibited normal routine spirometric function and Pessn, but a higher Eldyn, indicating peripheral airway involvement. In patients, but not in control subjects, Eldyn increased during both chemical stimuli and increased more during hypoxia than during hypercapnia. Also, changes in both Vt and Pessw(%Pessn) on changes in Pco2 were lower, while changes in Pessw(%Pessn)/Vt, an index of neuroventilatory dissociation (NVD) of the ventilatory pump, on changes in Pco2 were greater. Changes in Vt and NVD for unit change in arterial oxygen saturation were lower and higher, respectively. Changes in Borg scale per changes in NVD were greater during both stimuli. Furthermore, compared to hypoxic conditions, a greater Vt for any level of both minute volume and Pessw(%Pessn), and lower changes in Borg scale on changes in Pessw(%Pessn) and Pessw(%Pessn)/Vt were found in hypercapnia. Changes in NVD and Borg scale related to changes in Eldyn with both chemical stimuli.

Conclusions: In IDDM, the greater perception of dyspnea is associated with changes in inspiratory effort being out of proportion to changes in Vt. The greater increase in Eldyn and the lower increase in Vt may, in part, account for the greater perception of breathlessness during hypoxia.

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