Asystole and increased serum myoglobin levels associated with 'packing blackout' in a competitive breath-hold diver.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Summary Many competitive breath-hold divers use 'glossopharyngeal insufflation', also called 'lung packing', to overfill their lungs above normal total lung capacity. This increases intrathoracic pressure, decreases venous return, compromises cardiac pumping, and reduces arterial blood pressure, possibly resulting in a syncope breath-hold divers call 'packing blackout'. We report a case with a breath-hold diver who inadvertently experienced a packing blackout. During the incident, an electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood pressure were recorded, and blood samples for determinations of biomarkers of cardiac muscle perturbation (creatine kinase-MB isoenzyme (CK-MB), cardiac troponin-T (TnT), and myoglobin) were collected. The ECG revealed short periods of asystole during the period of 'packing blackout', simultaneous with pronounced reductions in systolic, diastolic, and pulse pressures. Serum myoglobin concentration was elevated 40 and 150 min after the incident, whereas there were no changes in CK-MB or TnT. The ultimate cause of syncope in this diver probably was a decrease in cerebral perfusion following glossopharyngeal insufflation. The asystolic periods recorded in this diver could possibly indicate that susceptible individuals may be put at risk of a serious cardiac incident if the lungs are excessively overinflated by glossopharyngeal insufflation. This concern is further substantiated by the observed increase in serum myoglobin concentration after the event.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Clinical Medicine


  • cardiac markers, apnoea, dysrythmia, glossopharyngeal insufflation, hypotension, syncope
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-461
JournalClinical Physiology and Functional Imaging
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Functional Zoology (432112239), Thoracic Surgery (013230027), Department of Cell and Organism Biology (Closed 2011.) (011002100), Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care (013230022)