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The effects of heliox non-saturation diving on the cardiovascular system and cognitive functions

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a single bout of heliox non-saturation diving on the cardiovascular system and cognitive function. Ten recreational scuba divers (10 males, ~35 years old) participated in this study. These subjects made two pool dives within a one-week interval, alternating gases with compressed air (21% O2, 79% N2) and with heliox (21% O2 and 79% He). The depth was to 26 meters over a 20-minute duration. The results showed that heliox diving significantly increased blood O2 saturation by 1.15% and significantly decreased blood lactate levels by ~57% when compared with air diving (P<0.05). However, there were no significant differences in resting heart rate, systolic or diastolic pressure, core body blood pressure, and pulse wave velocity between the heliox and air dives. The Stroop test showed that the heliox dive significantly increased cognitive function compared with the air dive in both the simple test (Offtime) and interference test (Ontime) (P<0.05). It was concluded that the heliox dive increases blood O2 saturation and decreases blood lactate concentration when compared with air dives. These conditions are likely to help divers reduce hypoxia in the water, reduce the risk of loss of consciousness, reduce fatigue and allow them to dive for longer. Heliox diving may also help judgment and risk coping skills in the water due to the improvement of cognitive ability as compared to air breathing dives.

DOI: 10.22462/01.03.2020.10