Site about space and the universe

Мкс Онлайн
ISS ONLINE
Space Online
NASA TV
[wpmegamenu menu_location="top"]

Space Station Research: Cardiovascular Health

Space Station Research: Cardiovascular Health

Each month, we highlight a different research topic on the International Space Station. In February, our focus is cardiovascular health, which coincides with the American Hearth Month.

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.

image

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.

image

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. We are currently 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!

image

On the space station, one of the tools we have to study heart health is the ultrasound device, which uses harmless sound waves to take detailed images of the inside of the body. These images are then viewed by researchers and doctors inside Mission Control. So with minimal training on ultrasound, remote guidance techniques allow astronauts to take images of their own heart while in space. These remote medicine techniques can also be beneficial on Earth.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *