A neoprene vest hastens dyspnoea and leg fatigue during exercise testing: entangled breathing and cardiac hindrance?

Regnard J; Veil-Picard M; Bouhaddi M; Castagna O;

Diving and hyperbaric medicine [Diving Hyperb Med] 2021 Dec 20; Vol. 51 (4), pp. 376-381.

Symptoms and contributing factors of immersion pulmonary oedema (IPO) are not observed during non-immersed heart and lung function assessments. We report a case in which intense snorkelling led to IPO, which was subsequently investigated by duplicating cardiopulmonary exercise testing with (neoprene vest test – NVT) and without (standard test – ST) the wearing of a neoprene vest. The two trials utilised the same incremental cycling exercise protocol. The vest hastened the occurrence and intensity of dyspnoea and leg fatigue (Borg scales) and led to an earlier interruption of effort. Minute ventilation and breathing frequency rose faster in the NVT, while systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure were lower than in the ST. These observations suggest that restrictive loading of inspiratory work caused a faster rise of intensity and unpleasant sensations while possibly promoting pulmonary congestion, heart filling impairment and lowering blood flow to the exercising muscles. The subject reported sensations close to those of the immersed event in the NVT. These observations may indicate that increased external inspiratory loading imposed by a tight vest during immersion could contribute to pathophysiological events.