Saturday, May 13, 2006

David Blaine is Dying to Breath

About four years ago I ran into David Blaine in a crowded New York City subway station. He was performing his usual card tricks for the local street gangs. I had admired his magic for years and really thought that, as the locals say, he “Got Skillz”. I watched for twenty minutes and then went on my way but it was the highlight of my day. There is no doubt his talent is far superior to others in his field.

Of course, if you were one of the lucky few million that caught his special the other night on ABC then you probably already know what I mean. As of late though, he’s taken to doing all sorts of ‘pseudo’ tricks, like living in a bubble full of water for one week in the middle of Lincoln Center.

“Why the hell would anyone want to live under water for one full week?” I’ll venture to say it’s good for publicity. But why am I even discussing the subject on a medical blog?

Here we are and it’s Sunday night and there is a man on television about to suffer through a live apnea test in front of the whole world! And in my twisted doctor mind part of me wished I could test his blood gases, I could peak at his pH. Maybe even figure out how he would do it. So I kinda did and I thought I would share some of what I’ve learned with you. But before I launch into that, you must be wondering what the apnea test is.

Taken literally the word “apnea” means “cessation of breathing” and the main purpose of this test is to determine if a patient is clinically brain dead. It’s used mainly when it is believed that the patient underwent such a catastrophic event that he/she no longer has any brain function, including the drive to breath. We believe that brain death is the equivalent of death and we use the apnea test, as one test among others, to confirm clinical brain death.

How is the test performed? The patient is disconnected from the ventilator for ten minutes and monitored for spontaneous breathing. At the same time, we continually monitor their blood gases (the concentration of oxygen and carbon dioxide in their blood) throughout the test. When a human being ceases to breathe the concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood rises and the concentration of oxygen falls. Patients fail the test if the concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood rise to twenty above baseline levels and no spontaneous breath is recorded. But how does all this relate to breath-holding in a live human being. Well, it technically doesn’t, but the same process will go on there as well. Slowly, the amount of oxygen in Blaine’s body will dwindle as the carbon dioxide level will rise. Slowly but surely, the feeling will become unbearable and his brain will begin to signal frantically for oxygen. But at what point will all this become so unbearable that it will override his will not to inhale?

There aren’t many studies that have investigated the human ability to breath-hold. But those that have been conducted have shown that breath-hold duration depends on numerous variables. One fact of solace was that, regardless of the circumstances, human beings seem incapable of holding their breath to unconsciousness.

For one, breath hold duration is increased by increasing lung inflation. One would expect that lung volume would stay constant during breath holding but this doesn't appear to be the case, mainly due to complicated pressure gradients that are beyond the scope of this discussion. However, one theory was that the breakpoint (point at which breath holding is no longer possible) may be dependent on some minimum chest size when this deflation would cause sufficient feedback to the brain respiratory center to initiate a breath. This however does not appear to be the case.

Interestingly, breath holding duration is almost doubled by either starting with a lower than normal blood carbon dioxide level, which can be achieved by hyperventilation or holding with gas mixtures that have an excessive concentration of oxygen. For those who witnessed the event, Blaine was coached to hyperventilate (purge) prior to going under, presumably to decrease the carbon dioxide levels in his blood. Obviously, he did his homework.

Increased metabolic rates decrease breath hold duration. Likewise, decreased metabolic rates increase it. I would suppose that it wouldn't be unreasonable to think that the tank that Blaine used was probably cooled to temperatures that would decrease metabolic demand during the final event. Surely, Blaine would have taken advantage of this phenomenon.

Do arterial chemo receptors dictate the breath breakpoint, maybe yes and maybe no. the fact that there is no consistent carbon dioxide blood level at breakpoint in study subjects suggest that this is not the case, however, one experiment in patients whose arterial chemo receptors were not functional showed that these subjects could breath-hold almost double the time of healthy subjects. I can't put it past Blaine to somehow alter the response of his chemo receptors prior to the event but I believe it is unlikely.

The bottom line:

Was I the only one who thought Evil Knievil was going to bitch slap Blaine during the interview? I bet not.

During the interview Blaine demonstrated that he could hold his breath for approximately five minutes (an amazing amount of time), or 305 seconds. if Blaine was to cool the water tank to decrease his metabolic rate and even increase his breath holding duration by 25% (no exact prolongation constant is available) than he would be able to hold his breath under these conditions for approximately 6 and one half minutes. By hyperventilating prior to starting the hold he would increase his time easily by an additional 25% which would conclude a total time of eight minutes (assuming he did not do this prior to his breath hold with kenivel).

Blaine was able to hold seven minutes and ten seconds. Pretty damn good but not much improved from his prior attempt with kenivel once all other factors are taken into account.

Overall, I think it’s safe to assume the event was more of a publicity stunt for Blaine’s magic than for actually breaking the world record. The special was good. Some of the tricks were unbelievable. Now all that’s left is to see what he’s going to do next.

Heck, he’s had a week under water to think about it!

A great article on the factors involved in breath holding can be found here.

81 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some divers websites are also saying that Blaine's breathing oxygen enriched air right beforehand while int the tank probably increased the amount of time he could hold his breath. I read somewhere that it's against the rules for people trying to set the record to breath oxygen enriched air for at least two hours before they try to hold their breath. The record for breath holding after breathing extra oxygen first is actually something more like 15 minutes according to some sources. So yes - Blaine does some cool stunts, but a lot of it is just for publicity. Still - some of his magic tricks and illusions are amazing.

6:09 PM  
Blogger I am a Milliner's Dream, a woman of many "hats"... said...

Fascinating post...I was driving my husband crazy last week because I was so interested in this stunt of DB's. I was also concerned about the state his skin would be in!

Thanks! I'll be linking to you. Great writing.

Hannah

8:05 PM  
Blogger Dr. Charles said...

so funny that your impulse was to do a blood gas on him. these guys are unreal. they are starving for attention, but brave at the same time i guess.

8:16 AM  
Blogger TC said...

I guess a decrease in lung inflation wouldn't necessarily cause one to breathe-have you heard of free diving? It's where a diver without ANY breathing apparatus, dives straight down and straight back up to see how far down they can go holding their breath. (I think the record is like 300' but don't quote me) I've heard that when they reach their lowest depth, their lungs are compacted to the size of fists d/t the pressure.

This is great. Not only am I gonna link to this, can I use it with my students?

6:14 AM  
Blogger Internal Medicine Doctor said...

sure TC, although I recommend maybe teaching the original article that I linked

4:36 PM  
Blogger Dreaming again said...

Dr C ... I have the same reaction ... attention ... ego ..and attention.

Magic wasn't part of it. :(

10:09 AM  
Blogger M. Dyspnea said...

Every time a stunt like this gets media attention, a friend of mine from college calls and demands an explanation from me. I then research for a few hours/days so that I can remain his "know-it-all" friend. You just saved me so much time. Thanks!

10:48 PM  
Anonymous DJB said...

Blaine would also have to suppress shivering once exposed to the cold water. If he was unable to control the bodies normal responses to exposure to cold, the increased metabolic activity of shivering would work more to his detriment than the advantages that cold water would otherwise offer. I am often surprised at how rapidly the EtCO2 can rise in a shivering patient.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Internal Medicine Doctor said...

great point about the shivering.

it is possible as well that he didn't do any of what we think he did and that it was an honest attempt at a world record.

but that would be boring!

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um. Maybe I'm missing something here, but let me be the first to ask the obvious question. Does it really take an MD and some extra research to figure out that nobody can hold his breath for a week?

o_0

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you spell "breathe"?

12:17 PM  
Blogger Anthony said...

Do you know what he is up to next? Stay informed or talk about it in David Blaine's fansite.

6:31 AM  
Anonymous νικος κανακας said...

Hi

It is a very nice and great post and I like it.

11:41 PM  
Anonymous online pharmacy said...

Biggest selection of natural herbal products for skin care, male enhancement, managing stress, anxiety, weight loss, colon cleasing, quit smoking and more. All major credit cards accepted and worldwide delivery! http://www.herbal-store.net.

Male erectile dysfunction treatment drug viagra online information including generic equivalents, side effects and price comparison - http://www.onlineviagra.name

Colon cleansing treatment product Bowtrol is an all natural herbal colon cleanser medication that has changed hundreds of thousands of people's lives. It's effective whole body safe and effective internal colon cleansing. http://www.cleansingcolon.net.

Compare acomplia, meridia, phentermine, xenical, hoodia, tenuate, adipex, florinef and other weight loss medications prices online and order them without prescription http://www.weightloss.lt.

Articles, reviews and other information about herbal supplements, remedies, pills and natural treatment ways. Find out more about natural breast enlargement, colon health, male enhancement, weight loss. http://www.herbal.lt.

If you're about loosing weight or just keeping yourself in good fit, you might be interested in fitness machines and equipment. Biggest choice and best prices online. http://www.phoenixfitnessinc.com

2:09 PM  
Blogger Chus said...

This is what I think: David Blaine's Dive of Death

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is Colon Cleansing? What is it's history and what are the new trends? Read all about it here, your one-stop point for all there is to know on Colon Cleansing.

1:37 AM  
Anonymous Potenzmittel said...

Wow I wish they had something like that down here in California! I mean there are a lot of people down here and it would most definitely be a memorable day in a kodak moment type of history!
It really does look like a fun event and I wonder what other events like it they have planned! :)
With events like this Im sure with its positivity it will only enhance smiles all around the world!

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Masked Magician said...

Hello, I'am George. Visit my website, if you want to learn David Blaine Magic Tricks. All tricks are video explained, so you can learn very easy. Thank's and have a great day.

10:08 AM  
Blogger منتديات said...

thanks so much 4 a nice topic

منتديات | مركز تحميل

دردشة | مركز تحميل الفلاش

دردشه | شات زعلانه

دردشه زعلانه | شات

توبيكات 2010 | توبيكات

عالم حواء | مكياج

صور | صور رومنسيه

موسيقى | موسيقى هادئه

بلوتوث | مقاطع بلوتوث

العاب بنات | العاب فلاش

دروس تعليم الفوتوشوب | تحميل برنامج الفوتوشوب

اللغة الانجليزية | تعليم اللغه الانجليزيه

مسجات جديده | وسائط حب

تحضير | بحث

العاب فلاش جديده | نكت

منتدى ندى الورد | موقع ندى الورد

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Magic Tricks Revealed said...

Everyone loves magic so come on over to my website to learn some of the best magic tricks ever created for FREE! Free Magic Tricks

4:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buying Viagra And Avoiding Online Scams : The following information from Pfizer is provided as a guide and warning to potential consumers who seek to Buy Viagra online: Avoiding pharmacy scams will help you save a lot of time and money as well as frustration. Many so called online pharmacies sell dangerous fake versions of Viagra that are not only illegal but may be harmful to your health.

11:22 AM  
Blogger 123 123 said...

Nice post as for me. I'd like to read a bit more concerning that topic. Thank you for giving that info.
Sexy Lady
Call girls

4:57 AM  
Blogger Chatti said...

buy viagra
viagra online
generic viagra

9:03 AM  
Blogger madelaine said...

I think these are dying 'arts' I believe people are smarter than they used to be. ... I think the reason people didn't tune in for David Blaine is the ... that excited about David Blaine holding his breath under water.

cheapest generic viagra

10:07 PM  
Anonymous kamagra 100mg said...

Hey nice post.great blog.i like your post.Keep posting.

12:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great blog! By the way, if you are looking for cheap certified online ED pharmacy this information could be important for you:
Millions of men take benefits from Viagra. Read more about Viagra online. Viagra works effectively in amiable, moderate or undecorated Erectile Dysfunction.
Viagra improves erections for most men no matter how long they have had erectile dysfunction. Viagra online pharmacy. Brand and generic medications are available!
Generic Viagra is a need based pill. It should be taken only when you plan to indulge in sexual activity. Taken Viagra approximately 30 minutes before your plan sexual activity it will work on stimulation for around 4 hours. Order Generic pharmacy online from a certified generic drug pharmacy. Lowest prices on both generic and brand medications. Big discounts, fast and free worldwide shipping!

12:16 PM  
Anonymous online generic lveitra said...

Hello,
This is really very interesting post here..... Your blog is really very interesting and informative. I found your blog very interesting. Keep posting.

Thanks very much!

2:53 AM  
Anonymous Kiev escort said...

Intresting aricles you place here.
It would be useful to read anything more concerning this topic.
Thnx for tell that information.
With best regards Angela!!

6:49 AM  
Blogger tüp bebek said...

called Crianhas she helped me so much that one time when I will be stronger
tekirdağ koltuk yıkama
tekirdağ halı yıkama
tekirdağ halı yıkama
tekirdağ halı yıkama
tekirdağ çilingir
okey sitesi açmak

tekirdağ halıyıkama
ankara halı yıkama
tekirdağ temizlik
ankara tel örgü
mankenler
cast
su pompası
ısı yalıtım
kilo vermek

2:49 PM  
Blogger Shelly said...

Herbal Treatment has proven to be the best of all Medicine one of them is Botanic Choice which provides great herbal cure solutions

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Forzest said...

Great piece of article. It explains so much about the topic. I should say it is a detailed article. Talks about a variety of things - something which I never thought could exist. What I found different in your article is the way you have gone about to explain the topic in a simplistic way.

10:52 PM  
Anonymous Clenbuterol said...

Maybe he is an yogi who can bypass laws of the nature

5:39 AM  
Anonymous generic viagra online said...

Amazing post.Great article.I think this is unbelievable but i really enjoyed to be reading your post.

3:51 AM  
Anonymous generic viagra said...

It is quite risky thanks a lot for this nice information....

Smith ALan

10:35 PM  
Anonymous mens health said...

hi there,
nice information provided.
thanks for that.
kindly keep posting these kind of information in the future.
thanks once again.

9:57 PM  
Anonymous Generic Viagra said...

I have taken up the curse of journalism and wish to write for internet just like you some day. I just love the journalism field. I too shall be well informed and a good writer, just the way you are. ?

Generic Viagra

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Generic Propecia said...

Please keep continue about thatThis is a great work done by you.Nice information, many thanks to the author. It is incomprehensible to me now, but in general, the usefulness and significance is overwhelming. Thanks again and good luck!!!

5:28 AM  
Anonymous buy viagra online said...

This is an amazing blog post here.... very interesting and informative.... Keep posting.... Thanks!

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Health Blog said...

It’s used mainly when it is believed that the patient underwent such a catastrophic event that he/she no longer has any brain function, including the drive to breath. We believe that brain death is the equivalent of death and we use the apnea test, as one test among others, to confirm clinical brain death.

5:52 AM  
Anonymous Online Pharmacy said...

He went a record-breaking 17 minutes without breathing, thanks to intensive training, stamina and some lucky human evolution

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Discount Viagra said...

Well, anything that numbs your eyes has to have a load of bad ingredients in them. Just because these companies are trying to green up their image doesn't mean they are really moving forward. I think that the care of our babies has to be the first and foremost. Glad you shared this with so many.


sildenafil citrate

2:19 AM  
Blogger savsuns said...

Explore your options for healthy aging. Find research and information on the health benefits of resveratrol, the miracle polyphenol found in red wine and its miraculous antiaging benefits. Resveratrol research suggests it has antiaging, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, and cardiovascular benefits. cheap lasix.

4:46 AM  
Blogger All generic medicine online said...

Thank You a ton for writing such a wonderful piece of information. Keep sharing such ideas in the future as well. This was actually what I was looking for, and I am glad to came here! Thanks for sharing the such information with us.Generic Darvocet N

7:06 AM  
Anonymous Online Generic Viagra said...

nice post.

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Renova Cream said...

good to see this , david plaine is simply super. I always amazed to see his acts.

11:29 PM  
Anonymous Generic Viagra said...

Hey, Really great work,I would like to join your blog anyway so please continue sharing with us,

10:28 PM  
Anonymous generic viagra said...

Cool Post.....



mlance

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Capsiplex Reviews said...

It was really nice to study your post. I collect some good points here. I would like to be appreciative you with the hard work you have made in skill this is great article.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

Excellent post. I want to thank you for this informative read, I really appreciate sharing this great post. Keep up your work.
Meratol Reviews

4:26 AM  
Blogger dewa1111 said...

Thank you. Ankara Halı Yıkama

4:20 PM  
Anonymous online drugs said...

Wow!
It's awesome blog post here.... really very interesting for reading..... I enjoyed it. Thanks for the share.... just keep posting such an informative articles, I want to know more about this topic.

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Ranozex said...

Això és realment interessant, ets un blogger molt hàbil. M'he unit a la seva alimentació i esperem que busquen més del seu missatge meravellós. A més, he compartit el seu lloc en els meus xarxes socials !

4:10 AM  
Anonymous Buy Valsartan Online said...

That's excellent that you share so many marvellous facts and new fresh points.

6:22 AM  
Anonymous online viagra said...

Please one more post about that.I wonder how you got so good. This is really a fascinating blog, lots of stuff that I can get into. One thing I just want to say is that your Blog is so perfect

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Generic Viagra said...

I think you are right when you say this. Hats off man, what a superlative knowledge you have on this subject…hope to see more work of yours.

4:36 AM  
Blogger meriska shah said...

I really admire this, I mean it really looks interesting! Very nice write up. Anyways, its a Great post.

6:27 AM  
Blogger Murat said...

Thanks nice blog.
Ankara Halı Yıkama, Dikmen Halı Yıkama, Çankaya Halı Yıkama, Çayyolu Halı Yıkama, Batıkent Halı Yıkama, Eryaman Halı Yıkama, Ankara Koltuk Yıkama, Dikmen Koltuk Yıkama, Çankaya Koltuk Yıkama, Çayyolu Koltuk Yıkama, Batıkent Koltuk Yıkama, Eryaman Koltuk Yıkama, Ankara Halı Yıkama, Dikmen Halı Yıkama, Çankaya Halı Yıkama, Çayyolu Halı Yıkama, Batıkent Halı Yıkama, Eryaman Halı Yıkama, Ankara Koltuk Yıkama, Dikmen Koltuk Yıkama, Çankaya Koltuk Yıkama, Çayyolu Koltuk Yıkama, Batıkent Koltuk Yıkama, Eryaman Koltuk Yıkama, Ankara Halı Yıkama, Ankara Koltuk Yıkama, Halı Yıkama, Koltuk Yıkama, Çankaya Yıkama

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Astermeds.com said...

Hi,
This is an awesome blog post. Thanks a lot for the share, Keep posting such an awesome blog post.

5:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Imposing website using the ct. I enjoy forthcoming so as to your website and my annul cellular phone search site seeing as well. In fact as well as a cellular phone reverse lookup lookup you be capable of achieve easy cell phone lookups on anyone quickly as well as easily these days without one use. So proviso you want so once to unearth not in yet added info in relation to my change search or repeal phone place, check away since home this blog.

8:36 PM  
Anonymous Javed Sunesra said...

Useful information ..I am very happy to read this post. thanks for giving us this useful information. Fantastic walk-through. I appreciate this post.

5:23 AM  
Blogger Generic Drugstore said...

I'm glad to have found this post as Generic Clomid Online such an interesting one! I am always on the lookout for quality posts and articles so i suppose im lucky to have found Buy Valsartan Online! I hope you will be adding more in the future…

11:52 PM  
Blogger Learn Spanish for Kids and Family said...

Get Enjoy with your Kids and Family:
Box Set: 10 DVDs was $119.95, SALE $99.95
Level 1: 3 DVDs was $44.95, SALE $34.95
Level 2: 3 DVDs was $44.95, SALE $34.95
Level 3: 4 DVDs was $44.95, SALE $39.95
english to spanish worksheets for kids
learning spanish language
learn spanish for kids dvd
learn spanish on dvd
spanish for kids

2:00 PM  
Blogger leafofhope said...

Fascinating post...I was driving my husband crazy last week because I was so interested in this stunt of DB's. I was also concerned about the state his skin would be in!

Thanks! I'll be linking to you. Great writing.

make money
winning lottery numbers

8:40 PM  
Anonymous Buy Viagra said...

All of us know that those things are only tricks but I admire the way David Blaine has performed those tricks, for me he's one of the best ones.

6:25 AM  
Anonymous Cheap Logo Design said...

This is a smart blog. You have so much knowledge about this issue, and so much passion. You also know how to make people rally behind it, obviously from the responses.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Econis LABS - Engineering Answers said...

Wow great post very informative, all i can add is if you would like to read more on the subject of Engineering Services and Solutions you should visit this location! Hope it is helpful!

9:08 AM  
Blogger simson11 said...

The work is as solid as ever..I was just on your web sight looking at your plein air body of work..amazing and solid. Glad I checked in, you continue to inspire.
poker texas holdem tips

bingo canada

7:20 AM  
Anonymous sports handicapping services said...

hey guys that,s really amazing posts...

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Poker said...

I am very much pleased today. I enjoyed every little bit part of it and I will be waiting for the new updates.
--------------------------
My web: Poker bonus senza versamento & Poker senza deposito online

4:23 AM  
Anonymous Poker said...

I am so happy you took the time to make incredible David Blaine is Dying to Breath blog here. See you around
--------------------------
My site: Poker Money Instantly Bonuses.

4:24 AM  
Anonymous Poker said...

Your blog post is very unique and well research, Thanks for your research on academic knowledge…
--------------------------
My site: Bonus 100% free online poker !

4:25 AM  
Anonymous Poker Cash Bankroll said...

This is really a fascinating website and all your articles, lots of useful stuff.
--------------------------
Our website: Texas Free Poker

4:26 AM  
Anonymous Extenze Scam said...

I enjoyed every little bit part of it and I will be waiting for the new updates.

12:19 AM  
Blogger The New Age Source Blog said...

Really thank you for beginning this up. This web page is something that is required on the web, someone with a little appearance. Useful job for providing something new to the internet! gem stone jewelry

10:16 AM  
Anonymous call center voip solutions said...

I am also interested in this topic. I have spent a lot of time on searching this kind of topic. It is very informative.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Sarah Payne said...

uk toll free numbers
It’s a pleasure to visit this blog because it has a detailed structure. Simply Excellent.

4:52 AM  
Anonymous Brown said...

WiseRecovery, best data recovery tool to recover your lost files. It supports almost all kinds of file formats, such as

image files, video files, audio files, email files, ect.

data recovery tool


9:35 PM  
Blogger yakenzu toby said...

Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. agen bola, agen sbobet, judi bola, agen ibcbet

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Kamagra 100mg said...

Nice Post Love Reading Its


cheap generic viagra

side effect of apcalis 20mg

11:17 PM  
Anonymous agen bola said...

I like your blog post. Keep on writing this type of great stuff. I'll make sure to follow up on your blog in the future.Very good, informative piece. Smartly done as all the time.. judi bola online, agen sbobet indonesia, 338a

5:16 PM  
Anonymous http://arenaliga.com/sbobet/ said...

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about information and love learning more on this. If possible, as you gain expertise, it is extremely helpful for me. Would you mind updating your blog with more information? 338a terpercaya

6:16 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home