Hyperventilation and cerebra blood flow

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Hypocapnic-hyperventilation has a profound, but probably temporary, effect on CBF, producing approximately a 2% decline in CBF for each I torr decline in PCO2. This effect appears to be mediated through changes in perivascular pH of the cerebral resistance vessels acting directly on the vessel wall. At low PCO2the vasoconstrictor effect of short-term hypocapnic-hyperventilation is attenuated by resultant cerebral hypoxia. During prolonged hyperventilation CBF returns toward normal as the pH in the CSF is restored. Short-term hypocapnic-hyperventilation can be lifesaving in the treatment of acute intracranial hypertension. On the other hand, prolonged hyperventilation has not been convincingly shown to benefit patients, whether with severe head injury or cerebral infarction, or during carotid endarterectomy without bypass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)566-575
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1972


  • Carotid endarterectomy
  • Cerebral infarction
  • Head injury
  • Intracranial hypertension


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