Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Space Station Research: Cardiovascular Health
Like bones and muscle, the cardiovascular system deconditions (gets weaker) in microgravity. Long-duration spaceflight may increase the risk of damage and inflammation in the cardiovascular system primarily from radiation, but also from psychological stress, reduced physical activity, diminished nutritional standards and, in the case of extravehicular activity, increased oxygen exposure.
Even brief periods of exposure to reduced-gravity environments can result in cardiovascular changes such as fluid shifts, changes in total blood volume, heartbeat and heart rhythm irregularities and diminished aerobic capacity.
The weightless environment of space also causes fluid shifts to occur in the body. This normal shift of fluids to the upper body in space causes increased inter-cranial pressure which could be reducing visual capacity in astronauts. NASA is testing how this can be counteracted by returning fluids to the lower body using a “lower body negative pressure” suit, also known as Chibis.
Spaceflight also accelerates the aging process, and it is important to understand this process to develop specific countermeasures. Developing countermeasures to keep astronauts’ hearts healthy in space is applicable to heart health on Earth, too!Read & Learn:http://www.nasa.gov/content/cardiovascular-health
Chibis - what's that?:http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1257.html