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Effect of Army Basic Training in Sickle-Cell Trait

Idelle M. Weisman, MD; R. Jorge Zeballos, MD; Timothy W. Martin, MD; Bruce D. Johnson, MS
Arch Intern Med. 1988;148(5):1140-1144. doi:10.1001/archinte.1988.00380050144021.
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• In order to determine if sickle-cell trait (SCT) represents an inherent adverse effect on response to training, we objectively evaluated exercise performance in 22 healthy, black men with SCT (hemoglobin AS) and 15 controls (hemoglobin AA) before and after seven weeks of army basic training at an altitude of 1270 m. An incremental exercise test to exhaustion on a cycle ergometer was used. Before basic training, peak exercise measurements did not reveal significant differences between groups other than a slightly lower, albeit significant, value for oxygen uptake (Vo2) per kilogram (42±1 vs 45±1.4 mL/min per kilogram) for the SCT group. Both groups experienced modest overall cardiovascular improvement reflected in both peak and submaximal exercise responses. No statistically significant difference was observed between the SCT and the control groups at the end of basic training for any of the measured variables at peak exercise, including power (258±6 vs 266±9W), Vo2 (3.24±.06 vs 3.36±.16 L/min), Vo2 per kilogram (46±0.7 vs 46±1.2), minute ventilation (138±4 vs 147±8 L/min), heart rate (185±2 vs 184±3 beats per minute), oxygen pulse (17.6±.3 vs 18.4±1 mL/min per beat), as well as anaerobic threshold (1.81±.04 vs 1.80±.06 L/min), respectively. No medical problems directly attributed to SCT were reported; it remains uncertain, however, whether a seizure experienced by one of the other SCT basic trainees after a two-mile run was SCT related. The results of this study would, therefore, suggest that for the majority of individuals who possess SCT, the response to the moderate training regimen provided by army basic training is not impaired.

(Arch Intern Med 1988;148:1140-1144)

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