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Bed Rest and Orthostatic-Hypotensive IntoleranceOrthostatic tolerance may be defined as the ability of humans to maintain cerebral perfusion and consciousness upon movement from a supine or sitting position to the upright posture; for example, subjects can stand suddenly or be tilted to the head-up body position. Similar but not identical physiological responses can be induced by positive G(sub Z) (head to foot) acceleration or exposure to lower body negative pressure (LBNP). The objective is to suddenly shift blood to the lower body to determine how effectively cardiovascular and neural-hormonal compensatory responses react to maintain blood pressure. In the most precise method for measuring tolerance, individuals would be stressed until they faint (syncope). However, the potential consequences and discomforts of such a test usually prohibit such a procedure so that few investigators actually induce syncope. In a more common approach, subjects are exposed to a given level of stress, for example, head-up tilt for 15 min, and any increases in heart rate or decreases in blood pressure are interpreted as indicators of progress toward syncope. Presumably, the greater the perturbation of heart rate and blood pressure, the closer to "tolerance," i.e., point of unconsciousness. Another more appropriate approach is to induce a progressively increasing hypotensive stress until pre-determined physiological responses or pre-syncopal symptoms appear. The physiological criteria may include a sudden drop in systolic blood pressure (greater than 25 mm/min), a sudden drop in heart rate (greater than 15 beats/min), or a systolic blood pressure less than 70 mmHg. The most common pre-syncopal symptoms include lightheadedness, stomach awareness or distress, feelings of warmth, tingly skin, and light to profuse sweating. Usually a combination of physiological responses and symptoms occurs such that, on different days, the tolerance time to the same orthostatic protocol is reproducible for a given individual. The assumption is that by taking subjects to near fainting, one can determine their tolerance. This latter pre-syncopal approach is better for estimating orthostatic or hypotensive tolerance than the former measurement of heart rate and blood pressure responses to a given stress. There is considerable variability in individual responses to orthostasis. For example, some subjects are "heart-rate responders" and have a pronounced cardiovascular response similar to that when performing moderately hard aerobic exercise, whereas others may experience pre-syncopal symptoms with very little increase in heart rate. Some individuals have a slow, gradual fall in blood pressure to orthostasis, and others have little change in blood pressure until a sudden precipitous fall in pressure occurs just prior to fainting. With both tilt and LBNP tests there is a low correlation between heart-rate or blood-pressure responses to a sub-tolerance stress as a measure of pre-syncopal limited orthostatic-hypotensive tolerance.
Document ID
Document Type
Schneider, Suzanne M. (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX United States)
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
January 18, 2000
Publication Information
Publication: Deconditioning and Reconditioning: Humans in Stressful Environments
Subject Category
Aerospace Medicine
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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