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Physiological Assessment of Bagpipers: A Preliminary Study of Cardiopulmonary Parameters

Deborah Barr, Lee Van Dusen, Steve Ess, Julie Plezbert
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 15 Number 2: Page 51 (June 2000)

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Abstract: This study examined pulmonary function of pipers and cardiac adaptation to the playing of the Great Highland bagpipe. Pipers (n = 13) of varying ages (31-65 years) and playing experiences (2-20+ years) were evaluated for vital capacity (VC), maximal voluntary ventilation (MVV), and forced vital capacity (FVC) using a RIKO AS-600 spirometer. Subjects were monitored by impedance cardiograph for heart rate (HR), stroke volume (SV), and cardiac output (CO) at rest and during 5 minutes of playing. An automatic blood pressure (BP) monitor collected BP values over the same time period. Eleven weeks after initial cardiac data collection, the BP and cardiac measurements were repeated using the same protocols. Mean values for HR, SV, and CO were calculated for rest and each minute (1-5) of playing. A 2 (data session) by 6 (rest, min 1-5) repeated-measures ANOVA was performed. Analysis revealed a significant overall time effect (p < 0.001) on HR. A-priori contrast comparing all playing times with rest showed significant differences at all time points. Analysis of SV and CO failed to find significance. Heart rate values calculated for percent of maximum ranged from 68% to 89% of maximum overall while playing (session 1) and from 55% to 81% of maximum (session 2). Predicted percent of maximum values for VC and MVV found 77% of players above their maximum predicted values.

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