What is Hyperpnea?

Related Posts:

What is Hyperpnea? (OpenStax Anatomy and Physiology)

Hyperpnea is an increased depth and rate of ventilation to meet an increase in oxygen demand as might be seen in exercise or disease, particularly diseases that target the respiratory or digestive tracts. This does not significantly alter blood oxygen or carbon dioxide levels, but merely increases the depth and rate of ventilation to meet the demand of the cells. In contrast, hyperventilation is an increased ventilation rate that is independent of the cellular oxygen needs and leads to abnormally low blood carbon dioxide levels and high (alkaline) blood pH.

Interestingly, exercise does not cause hyperpnea as one might think. Muscles that perform work during exercise do increase their demand for oxygen, stimulating an increase in ventilation. However, hyperpnea during exercise appears to occur before a drop in oxygen levels within the muscles can occur. Therefore, hyperpnea must be driven by other mechanisms, either instead of or in addition to a drop in oxygen levels. The exact mechanisms behind exercise hyperpnea are not well understood, and some hypotheses are somewhat controversial. However, in addition to low oxygen, high carbon dioxide, and low pH levels, there appears to be a complex interplay of factors related to the nervous system and the respiratory centers of the brain.

First, a conscious decision to partake in exercise, or another form of physical exertion, results in a psychological stimulus that may trigger the respiratory centers of the brain to increase ventilation. In addition, the respiratory centers of the brain may be stimulated through the activation of motor neurons that innervate muscle groups that are involved in the physical activity. Finally, physical exertion stimulates proprioceptors, which are receptors located within the muscles, joints, and tendons, which sense movement and stretching; proprioceptors thus create a stimulus that may also trigger the respiratory centers of the brain. These neural factors are consistent with the sudden increase in ventilation that is observed immediately as exercise begins. Because the respiratory centers are stimulated by psychological, motor neuron, and proprioceptor inputs throughout exercise, the fact that there is also a sudden decrease in ventilation immediately after the exercise ends when these neural stimuli cease, further supports the idea that they are involved in triggering the changes of ventilation.

Related Research: Research Article: Airway Response to Methacholine following Eucapnic Voluntary Hyperpnea in Athletes


Betts, J. G., Young, K. A., Wise, J. A., Johnson, E., Poe, B., Kruse, D. H., … DeSaix, P. (n.d.). Anatomy and Physiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/anatomy-and-physiology

Related External Link:

Cardiovascular consequences of exercise hyperpnea

Other Related Research:

Research Article: Pre-Exercise Hyperpnea Attenuates Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction Without Affecting Performance

Date Published: November 29, 2016 Publisher: Public Library of Science Author(s): Philipp A. Eichenberger, Thomas A. Scherer, Christina M. Spengler, Stelios Loukides. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0167318 Abstract: Whole-body warm-up exercises were shown to attenuate exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). Whether intense pre-exercise hyperpnea offers similar protection and whether this might negatively affect exercise performance is unknown. Nine subjects with EIB … Continue reading…..

Research Article: Randomized Controlled Trial of Fish Oil and Montelukast and Their Combination on Airway Inflammation and Hyperpnea-Induced Bronchoconstriction

Date Published: October 18, 2010 Publisher: Public Library of Science Author(s): Sandra Tecklenburg-Lund, Timothy D. Mickleborough, Louise A. Turner, Alyce D. Fly, Joel M. Stager, Gregory S. Montgomery, Rory Edward Morty. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0013487 Abstract: Both fish oil and montelukast have been shown to reduce the severity of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). The purpose of this study was to … Continue reading……