To what extent does going to space affect cardiovascular function? Although many studies have addressed this question, the answer remains controversial. Even for such primary parameters as heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) contradictory results have been presented. The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate HR and arterial BP in 11 male astronauts who each took part in nine different space missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS), for up to 6 months. Pre-flight HR and BP readings were obtained in both the standing and supine positions on Earth and were taken as reference values. Our results show that HR and arterial BP in space equal pre-flight supine values. In all subjects, HR and mean arterial BP (MAP) were lower in space compared with pre-flight standing (both 0.05). HR in space was well maintained at pre-flight supine level for up to 6 months in all astronauts while MAP tended to adapt to a level in between the ground-based standing and supine positions. Also pulse pressure (PP) decreased over the course of long duration spaceflight. In conclusion, our data indicate that weightlessness relaxes the circulation in humans for an extended duration of up to 6 months in space.
Research Containing: Physiological/*physiology
Cardiac and vascular responses to thigh cuffs and respiratory maneuvers on crewmembers of the International Space Station
BACKGROUND: The transition to microgravity eliminates the hydrostatic gradients in the vascular system. The resulting fluid redistribution commonly manifests as facial edema, engorgement of the external neck veins, nasal congestion, and headache. This experiment examined the responses to modified Valsalva and Mueller maneuvers measured by cardiac and vascular ultrasound (ECHO) in a baseline steady state and under the influence of thigh occlusion cuffs available as a countermeasure device (Braslet cuffs). METHODS: Nine International Space Station crewmember subjects (expeditions 16-20) were examined in 15 experiment sessions 101 +/- 46 days after launch (mean +/- SD; 33-185). Twenty-seven cardiac and vascular parameters were obtained with/without respiratory maneuvers before and after tightening of the Braslet cuffs (162 parameter states/session). Quality of cardiac and vascular ultrasound examinations was assured through remote monitoring and guidance by investigators from the NASA Telescience Center in Houston, TX, and the Mission Control Center in Korolyov, Moscow region, Russia. RESULTS: 14 of 81 conditions (27 parameters measured at baseline, Valsalva, and Mueller maneuver) were significantly different when the Braslet was applied. Seven of 27 parameters were found to respond differently to respiratory maneuvers depending on the presence or absence of thigh compression. CONCLUSIONS: Acute application of Braslet occlusion cuffs causes lower extremity fluid sequestration and exerts commensurate measurable effects on cardiac performance in microgravity. Ultrasound techniques to measure the hemodynamic effects of thigh cuffs in combination with respiratory maneuvers may serve as an effective tool in determining the volume status of a cardiac or hemodynamically compromised patient at the "microgravity bedside."
To investigate the effects of microgravity on murine skeletal muscle fiber size, muscle contractile protein, and enzymatic activity, female C57BL/6J mice, aged 64 days, were divided into animal enclosure module (AEM) ground control and spaceflight (SF) treatment groups. SF animals were flown on the space shuttle Endeavour (STS-108/UF-1) and subjected to approximately 11 days and 19 h of microgravity. Immunohistochemical analysis of muscle fiber cross-sectional area revealed that, in each of the muscles analyzed, mean muscle fiber cross-sectional area was significantly reduced (P < 0.0001) for all fiber types for SF vs. AEM control. In the soleus, immunohistochemical analysis of myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform expression revealed a significant increase in the percentage of muscle fibers expressing MHC IIx and MHC IIb (P < 0.05). For the gastrocnemius and plantaris, no significant changes in MHC isoform expression were observed. For the muscles analyzed, no alterations in MHC I or MHC IIa protein expression were observed. Enzymatic analysis of the gastrocnemius revealed a significant decrease in citrate synthase activity in SF vs. AEM control.