The Collapse Of Alveoli

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When air-breathing mammals dive to high-pressure depths, lung gases move to the blood and other tissues of the body according to gas tension gradients (Kooyman, 1972). If a mammal’s ascension to the surface occurs too quickly, the pressure releases too suddenly reversing nitrogen into a gas, forming emboli which can obstruct blood flow and cause bone damage (Lippsett, 2005). In the past, it was believed that marine mammals were immune to decompression issues due to adaptations that reduce nitrogen loading during dives. A progressive collapse of alveoli was thought to prevent gas uptake by the blood, with oxygen demand curbed by reduced heart rate and blood flow to the muscles. Increased body mass, decreased relative lung size, increased blood

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