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Respiratory Minute Volume in Health and Disease

The pulmonary systemMinute ventilation (or pulmonary ventilation, or respiratory minute volume, or flow of air) is the volume of air that can be inhaled (inhaled minute volume) or exhaled during one minute.

The calculation of minute ventilation is simple: MV=TV*Rf or minute volume is equal to tidal volume (amount of air for one breath, ml) multiplied by the respiratory frequency (number of breaths per minute).

This table shows normal minute ventilation (liters of air per minute) in healthy subjects at rest (14 studies).

Table. Normal respiratory minute volume (healthy subjects only)

*Each row corresponds to a research paper or medical science article
Condition Minute ventilation N. of subjects References
Normal breathing 6 l/min - Medical textbooks
Healthy subjects 7.7 +- 0.3 l/min 19 Douglas et al, 1982
Healthy males 8.4 +- 1.3 l/min 10 Burki, 1984
Healthy males 6.3 l/min 10 Smits et al, 1987
Healthy males 6.1 +-1.4 l/min 6 Fuller et al, 1987
Healthy subjects 6.1 +- 0.9 l/min 9 Tanaka et al, 1988
Healthy students 7.0 +- 1.0 l/min 10 Turley et al, 1993
Healthy subjects 6.6 +- 0.6 l/min 10 Bengtsson et al, 1994
Healthy subjects 7.0 +-1.2 l/min 12 Sherman et al, 1996
Healthy subjects 7.0+-1.2 l/min 10 Bell et al, 1996
Healthy subjects 6 +- 1 l/min 7 Parreira et al, 1997
Healthy subjects 7.0 +- 1.1 l/min 14 Mancini et al, 1999
Healthy subjects 6.6 +- 1.1 l/min 40 Pinna et al, 2006
Healthy subjects 6.7 +- 0.5 l/min 17 Pathak et al, 2006
Healthy subjects 6.7 +- 0.3 l/min 14 Gujic et al, 2007
"Normal" subjects 12 +- 2 l/min >500 Results of 18 studies

You can find references to these studies on healthy subjects here.

These research papers and medical science articles show that healthy subjects have a very light and easy breathingFor details related pattern at rest, generally corresponding to about 6-7 liters of air per min for their normal minute ventilation values. Modern medical and physiological textbooks provide values for the normal pulmonary ventilation, ranging from 6 up to 9 liters of air per minute at rest for a 70-kg man.

However, it is clear that when the MV is higher than 10 L/min, this is hyperventilation.

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Normal ventilation leads to high (or normal) CO2 in the arterial blood and body cells. As a result, O2 transport is normal and they have normal oxygen values in the brain, heart and other body organs and cells.

Minute volume in normal subjects

Pulmonary ventilation values for modern "normal subjects" are much higher, averaging at about 12 L/min.

Respiratory minute volume graph: historical changes

Respiratory minute volume in people with chronic conditions

What do we know about minute ventilation rates in people with chronic diseases?

Breathing rates in healthy, normal people vs diseases

Ideal pulmonary ventilation

If we imagine different automatic breathing patterns with different respiratory volume, we can find such a pattern that provides maximum body oxygen levels. We already know that overbreathing reduces body oxygenation due to vasoconstriction, and possibly due to the Bohr effect. However, one can breathe even slower and less than the medical norm for breathing at rest. How much less? You can find out the number X for the respiratory volume that maximizes oxygen levels in the human body. This number X is provided below as your bonus content.

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List of all references: Minute Ventilation (or Pulmonary Ventilation) in Healthy Subjects

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