Work of breathing
Inspiratory pressure-time integral
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract We hypothesized that the viscoelastic properties of the respiratory system should have significant implications for the energetically optimal frequency of breathing, in view of the fact that these properties cause marked dependencies of overall system resistance and elastance on frequency. To test our hypothesis we simulated two models of canine and human respiratory system mechanics during sinusoidal breathing and calculated the inspiratory work ( $$\dot W$$ ) and pressure-time integral (PTI) per minute under both resting and exercise conditions. The two models were a two-compartment viscoelastic model and a single-compartment model. Requiring minute alveolar ventilation to be fixed, we found that both models predicted almost identical optimum breathing frequencies. The calculated PTI was very insensitive to increases in breathing frequency above the optimal frequencies, while $$\dot W$$ was found to increase slowly with frequency above its optimum. In contrast, both $$\dot W$$ and PTI increased sharply as frequency decreased below their respective optima. A sensitivity analysis showed that the model predictions were very insensitive to the elastance and resistance values chosen to characterize tissue viscoelasticity. We conclude that the $$\dot W$$ criterion for choosing the frequency of breathing is compatible with observations in nature, whereas the optimal frequency predictions of the PTI are rather too high. Both criteria allow for a fairly wide margin of choice in frequency above the optimum values without incurring excessive additional energy expenditure. Furthermore, contrary to our expectations, the viscoelastic properties of the respiratory system tissues do not pose a noticeable problem to the respiratory controller in terms of energy expenditure.
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