Effects of wearing different face masks on cardiopulmonary performance at rest and exercise in a partially double-blinded randomized cross-over study.

Marek EM; van Kampen V; Jettkant B; IKendzia B; Strauß B; Sucker K; Ulbrich M; Deckert A; Berresheim H; Eisenhawer C; Hoffmeyer F; Weidhaas S; Behrens T; Brüning T; Bünger J;

Scientific reports [Sci Rep] 2023 Apr 28; Vol. 13 (1), pp. 6950.
Date of Electronic Publication: 2023 Apr 28.

The use of face masks became mandatory during SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Wearing masks may lead to complaints about laboured breathing and stress. The influence of different masks on cardiopulmonary performance was investigated in a partially double-blinded randomized cross-over design. Forty subjects (19-65 years) underwent body plethysmography, ergometry, cardiopulmonary exercise test and a 4-h wearing period without a mask, with a surgical mask (SM), a community mask (CM), and an FFP2 respirator (FFP2). Cardiopulmonary, physical, capnometric, and blood gas related parameters were recorded. Breathing resistance and work of breathing were significantly increased while wearing a mask. During exercise the increase in minute ventilation tended to be lower and breathing time was significantly longer with mask than without mask. Wearing a mask caused significant minimal decreases in blood oxygen pressure, oxygen saturation, an initial increase in blood and inspiratory carbon dioxide pressure, and a higher perceived physical exertion and temperature and humidity behind the mask under very heavy exercise. All effects were stronger when wearing an FFP2. Wearing face masks at rest and under exercise, changed breathing patterns in the sense of physiological compensation without representing a health risk. Wearing a mask for 4-h during light work had no effect on blood gases.