Costantino Balestra

Costantino Balestra
HE2B - Haute Ecole Bruxelles-Brabant · HE2B - ISEK

Prof. PhD

About

214
Publications
55,632
Reads
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3,285
Citations
Introduction
Dr. Costantino Balestra started to study neurophysiology of fatigue then started studies on environmental physiology issues. He teaches physiology, biostatistics, research methodology, as well as other subjects. He Is the Director of the Integrative Physiology Laboratory and a full time professor at the Haute Ecole Bruxelles-Brabant (Brussels). He is VP of DAN Europe for research and education, Immediate past President of the European Underwater and Baromedical Society.
Additional affiliations
September 2010 - present
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Position
  • Senior Researcher
March 1994 - present
DAN Europe
DAN Europe
Position
  • Vice President
September 1989 - present
Haute Ecole Bruxelles-Brabant, Brussels, Belgium
Position
  • Principal Investigator

Publications

Publications (214)
Article
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Objective We aimed to evaluate the feasibility of an online High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) program on clinical psychological symptoms in higher education students in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.Materials and Methods During the lockdown, 30 students aged 18–25 years, who had been screened previously with a cut-off score ≥5...
Article
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Background: Despite evolution in decompression algorithms, decompression illness is still an issue nowadays. Reducing vascular gas emboli (VGE) production or preserving endothelial function by other means such as diving preconditioning is of great interest. Several methods have been tried, either mechanical, cardiovascular, desaturation aimed or bi...
Article
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Background: This study aimed to observe the effects of a fast acute ascent to simulated high altitudes on cardiovascular function both in the main arteries and in peripheral circulation. Methods: We examined 17 healthy volunteers, between 18 and 50 years old, at sea level, at 3842 m of hypobaric hypoxia and after return to sea level. Cardiac output...
Article
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Background and Objective: Several cases of central serous chorioretinopathy (CSC) in divers have been reported in our medical retina center over the past few years. This study was designed to evaluate possible changes induced by SCUBA diving in ophthalmic parameters and especially subfoveal choroidal thickness (SFCT), since the choroid seems to pla...
Article
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PurposeData regarding decompression stress after deep closed-circuit rebreather (CCR) dives are scarce. This study aimed to monitor technical divers during a wreck diving expedition and provide an insight in venous gas emboli (VGE) dynamics.Methods Diving practices of ten technical divers were observed. They performed a series of three consecutive...
Article
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Impaired flow mediated dilation (FMD), an index of vascular stress, is known after SCUBA diving. This is related to a dysfunction of nitric oxide (NO) availability and a disturbance of the redox status, possibly induced by hyperoxic/hyperbaric gas breathing. SCUBA diving is usually performed with a mask only covering “half face” (HF) and therefore...
Article
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PurposeDeep diving using mixed gas with closed-circuit rebreathers (CCRs) is increasingly common. However, data regarding the effects of these dives are still scarce. This preliminary field study aimed at evaluating the acute effects of deep (90–120 msw) mixed-gas CCR bounce dives on lung function in relation with other physiological parameters.Met...
Article
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Depending on the oxygen partial pressure in a tissue, the therapeutic effect of oxygenation can vary from simple substance substitution up to hyperbaric oxygenation when breathing hyperbaric oxygen at 2.5–3.0 ATA. Surprisingly, new data showed that it is not only the oxygen supply that matters as even a minimal increase in the partial pressure of o...
Article
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Introduction: Divers with a patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) have an increased risk for decompression sickness (DCS) when diving with compressed breathing gas. The relative risk increase, however, is difficult to establish as the PFO status of divers is usually only determined after a DCS occurrence. Methods: This prospective, single-blinded, observation...
Article
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Background: Divers thermal status influences susceptibility to decompression sickness hence the need for proper insulation during immersion in cold water. However, there is a lack of data on thermal protection provided by diving suits, hence this study. Materials and methods: Two different groups of divers wearing either a wetsuit (n = 15) or a...
Article
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Exercise generates reactive oxygen species (ROS), creating a redox imbalance towards oxidation when inadequately intense. Normobaric and hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) breathed while not exercising induces antioxidant enzymes expression, but literature is still poor. Twenty-two athletes were assigned to five groups: controls; 30%, or 50% O2; 100% O2 (HBO)...
Article
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Inflammation is an adaptive response to both external and internal stimuli including infection, trauma, surgery, ischemia-reperfusion, or malignancy. A number of studies indicate that physical activity is an effective means of reducing acute systemic and low-level inflammation occurring in different pathological conditions and in the recovery phase...
Article
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The “Normobaric Oxygen Paradox” (NOP) is a physiologic mechanism that induces an increase of endogenous erythropoietin (EPO) production by creating a state of relative hypoxia in subjects previously exposed to hyperoxia, followed by a rapid return to normoxia. Oxygen exposure duration and inspired oxygen fraction required to observe a significant i...
Article
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Introduction: Heart rate variability (HRV) during underwater diving has been infrequently investigated because of environment limitations and technical challenges. This study aims to analyze HRV changes while diving at variable hyperoxia when using open circuit (OC) air diving apparatus or at constant hyperoxia using a closed-circuit rebreather (CC...
Article
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Previous studies suggest that altered gravity levels during parabolic flight maneuvers affect spatial updating. Little is known about the impact of the experimental setting and psychological stressors associated with parabolic flight experiments on attentional processes. To address this gap, we investigated the level of alertness, selective and sus...
Article
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We report Blood Oxygen Level Dependent (BOLD) signal changes recorded in the brain of an elite breath-hold diver during voluntary dry long breath-hold by means of fMRI. An independent component analysis (ICA) method was applied to extract brain areas that are putatively involved in the apnea process network. We discuss the hypothesis that these BOL...
Article
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The term “normobaric oxygen paradox” (NOP), describes the response to the return to normoxia after a hyperoxic event, sensed by tissues as oxygen shortage, and resulting in up-regulation of the Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) transcription factor activity. The molecular characteristics of this response have not been yet fully characterized. He...
Article
Venous gas emboli (VGE) are often quantified as a marker of decompression stress on echocardiograms. Bubble-counting has been proposed as an easy to learn method, but remains time-consuming, rendering large dataset analysis impractical. Computer automation of VGE counting following this method has therefore been suggested as a means to eliminate ra...
Article
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Introduction: The Azoth Systems O'Dive bubble monitor is marketed at recreational and professional divers as a tool to improve personal diving decompression safety. We report the use of this tool during a 12-day dive trip aboard a liveaboard vessel. Methods: Six divers were consistently monitored according to the user manual of the O'Dive system...
Article
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Introduction: Critical flicker fusion frequency (CFFF) has been used in various studies to measure the cognitive effects of gas mixtures at depth, sometimes with conflicting or apparently paradoxical results. This study aimed to evaluate a novel automatic CFFF method and investigate whether CFFF can be used to monitor gas-induced narcosis in diver...
Article
Decompression sickness (DCS) is a complex and poorly understood systemic disease with wide inter-individual resistance variability. We selectively bred rats with a 3-fold greater resistance to DCS than standard ones. To investigate possible physiological mechanisms underlying the resistance to DCS, including sex-related differences in these mechani...
Preprint
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Introduction: The SARS-CoV2 pandemic has led to an worldwide shortage of Personal Protection Devices (PPD) for medical and paramedical personnel. Adaptation of commercially available snorkel masks to serve as full face masks has been proposed. Even not formally approved as PPD, they are publicized on social media as suitable for this use. Concerns...
Article
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Introduction: The “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2″ (SARS-CoV2) pandemic has led to a worldwide shortage of personal protection devices (PPD) for medical and paramedical personnel. Adaptation of commercially available snorkel masks to serve as full face masks has been proposed. Even not formally approved as PPD, they are publicized...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: The SARS-CoV2 pandemic has led to an worldwide shortage of Personal Protection Devices (PPD) for medical and paramedical personnel. Adaptation of commercially available snorkel masks to serve as full face masks has been proposed. Even not formally approved as PPD, they are publicized on social media as suitable for this use. Concerns...
Article
Full-text available
Background: A large yet heterogeneous body of literature exists suggesting that endothelial dysfunction appears early in type 1 diabetes, due to hyperglycemia-induced oxidative stress. The latter may also affect vascular smooth muscles (VSM) function, a layer albeit less frequently considered in that pathology. This meta-analysis aims at evaluating...
Article
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Background: Ocean racing has become increasingly demanding, both physically and psychologically. The aim of the study was to assess global changes after a transoceanic race. Materials and methods: Eight male sailors were evaluated pre- and post-race through anthropometric measurements (weight, skinfold, girth at different level and estimated bod...
Article
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Oxygenation conditions are crucial for growth and tumor progression. Recent data suggests a decrease in cancer cell proliferation occurring after exposure to normobaric hyperoxia. Those changes are associated with fractal dimension. The purpose of this research was to study the impact of hyperoxia on apoptosis and morphology of leukemia cell lines....
Article
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Introduction: When divers are compressed to water depths deeper than 150 meter sea water (msw), symptoms of high-pressure neurological syndrome (HPNS) might appear due to rapid increase in pressure on the central nervous system during compression. The aim of this study was to first operate a new computerized tool, designed to monitor divers’ wellbe...
Article
Our understanding of decompression physiopathology has slowly improved during this last decade and some uncertainties have disappeared. A better understanding of anatomy and functional aspects of patent foramen ovale (PFO) have slowly resulted in a more liberal approach toward the medical fitness to dive for those bearing a PFO. Circulating vascula...
Article
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Introduction: The risk for decompression sickness (DCS) after hyperbaric exposures (such as SCUBA diving) has been linked to the presence and quantity of vascular gas emboli (VGE) after surfacing from the dive. These VGE can be semi-quantified by ultrasound Doppler and quantified via precordial echocardiography. However, for an identical dive, VGE...
Book
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If we want to simply depict what extreme environments are, we can consider them as majorly depending on two parameters: Temperature and Pressure. Both can also be submitted to gravitational changes. As a matter of fact, both dimensions are also well linked together. Depending on those two parameters, hydration, gas partial pressures, effort, work o...
Article
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Introduction: Cognitive impairment related to inert gas narcosis (IGN) is a threat to diving safety and operations at depth that might be reduced by using enriched air nitrox (EANx) mixtures. Using critical flicker fusion frequency (CFFF), a possible early detection of cognitive abilities/cerebral arousal impairment when breathing different oxygen...
Article
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Objective: To observe the effects of a fast-acute ascent to high altitude on brain cognitive function and transcranial doppler parameters in order to understand the physiological countermeasures of hypoxia. Methods: 17 high-altitude-naïve male subjects (mean age was 26.3 � 8.1 years) participated in the study. We measured Critical Flicker Fusion Fr...
Article
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The original version of this article unfortunately contained a mistake.
Article
Divers Alert Network Europe has created a database with a large amount of dive-related data that has been collected since 1993 within the scope of the Diving Safety Laboratory citizen science project. The main objectives of this study are the grouping divers by their health information and revealing significant differences in diving parameters usin...
Article
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Commercial saturation diving involves divers living and working in an enclosed atmosphere with elevated partial pressure of oxygen (ppO2) for weeks. The divers must acclimatize to these conditions during compression, and for up to 28 days until decompression is completed. During decompression, the ppO2 and ambient pressure are gradually decreased;...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose Underwater divers face several potential neurological hazards when breathing compressed gas mixtures including nitrogen narcosis which can impact diver’s safety. Various human studies have clearly demonstrated brain impairment due to nitrogen narcosis in divers at 4 ATA using critical flicker fusion frequency (CFFF) as a cortical performanc...
Article
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In situ evaluation of human brain performance and arousal remains challenging during operational circumstances, hence the need for a rapid, reliable and reproducible tool. Here we hypothesized that the Critical flicker fusion frequency (CFFF) reflecting/requiring visual integration, visuo-motor skills and decision-taking process might be a powerful...
Article
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Introduction: Because a significant association between training to perform emergency free ascent (EFA) and the occurrence of pulmonary barotrauma (PBT) was demonstrated in 2006, the Belgian Underwater Federation (BUF) decided to discontinue this procedure. An evaluation was needed 10 yr after the implementation of this change. Methods: All medi...
Article
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Saturation divers are exposed to elevated partial pressure of oxygen (ppO2) in their hyperbaric work environment. Experimental studies indicate that oxygen transport is altered, and we have previously reported a drop in hematocrit and extensive downregulation of genes involved in blood oxygen transport capacity after decompression from professional...
Article
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Purpose: A reduction in ambient pressure or decompression from scuba diving can result in ultrasound-detectable venous gas emboli (VGE). These environmental exposures carry a risk of decompression sickness (DCS) which is mitigated by adherence to decompression schedules; however, bubbles are routinely observed for dives well within these limits an...
Article
Introduction: During exercise in hypoxia, O2delivery to brain and muscle is compromised and oxidative stress is elicited. Cocoa flavanols (CF) have antioxidant capacities and can increase blood flow by stimulating endothelial function. We aimed to examine the effects of 7-day CF intake on oxidative stress, nitric oxide production and tissue oxygen...
Article
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Introduction: Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO₂) therapy and use of enriched air can result in oxidative injury affecting the brain, lungs and eyes. HBO₂ exposure during diving can lead to a decrease in respiratory parameters. However, the possible effects of acute exposure to oxygen-enriched diving on subsequent spirometric performance and oxidative state...
Article
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Background: World Rugby Union laws are constantly evolving towards stringent injury-prevention, particularly for contested scrums, since front row players are most at risk of cervical spine injuries. Recently, some countries have also introduced tailored training programs and minimum performance requirements for playing in the front row. Neverthel...
Article
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Introduction: The popularity of SCUBA diving is steadily increasing together with the number of dives and correlated diseases per year. The rules that govern correct decompression procedures are considered well known even if the majority of Decompression Sickness (DCS) cases are considered unexpected confirming a bias in the “mathematical ability”...
Article
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ntroduction: There is a need to evaluate the influence of risk factors such as patency of foramen ovale (PFO) or “daredevil” psychological profile on contra-indication policy after a decompression sickness (DCS). Methods: By crossing information obtained from Belgian Hyperbaric Centers, DAN Emergency Hotline, the press and Internet diving forums, i...
Article
Introduction: Decompression sickness (DCS) is a complex and poorly understood systemic disease caused by inadequate desaturation following a decrease of ambient pressure. Strong variability between individuals is observed for DCS occurrence. This raises questions concerning factors that may be involved in the inter-individual variability of DCS oc...
Article
Bubble formation during scuba diving might induce decompression sickness. This prospective randomised and double-blind study included 108 advanced recreational divers (38 females). Fifty-four pairs of divers, 1 breathing air and the other breathing nitrox28 undertook a standardised dive (24 ± 1 msw; 62 ± 5min) in the Red Sea. Venous gas bubbles wer...
Article
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BACKGROUND: Divers try to limit risks associated with their sport, for instance by breathing enriched air nitrox (EANx) instead of air. This double blinded, randomized trial was designed to see if the use of EANx could effectively improve cognitive performance while diving. METHODS: Eight volunteers performed two no-decompression dry dives breathi...
Article
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Backround: Nitrogen narcosis impairs cognitive function, a fact relevant during SCUBA-diving. Oxygen-enriched air (nitrox) became popular in recreational diving, while evidence of its advantages over air is limited. Aim: Compare effects of nitrox28 and air on two psychometric tests. Methods: In this prospective, double-blind, open-water study, 108...
Book
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The editors of and authors of this book are a cadre of scientists and physicians with broad experience and knowledge of diving physiology and decompression theory. As is often the case, it requires a group effort to succeed in advancing practical knowledge. The colloquialism "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" is often true and the PHY...
Article
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Purpose: Previous studies have shown vascular dysfunction of main conductance arteries and microvessels after diving. We aim to evaluate the impact of bubble formation on vascular function and haemostasis. To achieve this, we used a vibration preconditioning to influence bubble levels without changing any other parameters linked to the dive. Meth...
Article
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Background: Using ultrasound imaging, vascular gas emboli (VGE) are observed after asymptomatic scuba dives and are considered a key element in the potential development of decompression sickness (DCS). Diving is also accompanied with vascular dysfunction, as measured by flow-mediated dilation (FMD). Previous studies showed significant intersubjec...
Article
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Purpose: Since non-provocative dive profiles are no guarantor of protection against decompression sickness, novel means including pre-dive “preconditioning” interventions, are proposed for its prevention. This study investigated and compared the effect of pre-dive oxygenation, pre-dive whole body vibration or a combination of both on post-dive bubb...
Article
Although many factors contributing to inert gas narcosis onset and severity have been put forward, the available evidence is not particularly strong. Using objective criteria, we have assessed brain impairment associated with narcosis under various environmental diving conditions. 40 volunteers performed a no-decompression dive (33 m for 20 min) ei...
Article
Dr Yanagawa and his colleagues present an interesting hypothesis, and our group has had some discussions around this vacuum phenomenon and decompression sickness (DCS). I am aware of at least one diver in whom symptoms appeared after a 'self-manipulation' of his lower lumbar spine. The diver exited the water symptom-free and approximately 1.5 hours...
Article
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SCUBA diving exposes divers to decompression sickness (DCS). There has been considerable debate whether divers with a Patent Foramen Ovale of the heart have a higher risk of DCS because of the possible right-to-left shunt of venous decompression bubbles into the arterial circulation. Symptomatic neurological DCS has been shown to cause permanent da...