Healthy male rats were acclimatized by being placed in a decompression chamber at a simulated altitude of 18 000 feet (5486 m) for three hours daily for 84 days. The altitude acclimatized rats paired with unacclimatized rats were rapidly decompressed together. The range of decompression was performed from on atmospheric pressure to an ambient pressure of 30 mmHg in 0-2 seconds. It was found that in control rats, 14 of 20 lung (70%) exhibited pulmonary haemorrhage following rapid decompression. In altitude acclimatized rats, however, only 6 of 20 (30%) revealed decompression-induced haemorrhage. The difference was statistically significant. The present findings indicate that long-term intermittent exposures to hypoxia might increase the resistance of pulmonary tissue to rapid decompression, resulting in a decrease in frequency and severity of pulmonary haemorrhage. The possible mechanism of such a phenomenon is discussed.
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