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Chris Hadfield and heart health in space


Uploaded on February 14, 2013

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Chris Hadfield and heart health in space

2013-02-14 - February is heart health month, not only on Earth, but in space as well. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is the test subject for two Canadian experiments, BP Reg and Vascular, projects that monitor the effects of weightlessness on the cardiovascular system. In this video Hadfield describes BP Reg, which is lead by Dr. Richard Hughson of the University of Waterloo. Results of these experiments could help us to better understand the human cardiovascular system and mechanisms that lead to fainting, which in turn could help reduce injury especially for the elderly. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)


Chris Hadfield: Did you know that space flight affects blood pressure? And it affects it in a way that causes astronauts to be much more likely to faint when they come back to Earth.

There's a Canadian experiment called BP Reg, and it's designed to test whether astronauts need counter measures in order to prevent them from fainting when we get back under the force of gravity on the surface of the planet. I'm a candidate, one of the participants in the BP Reg experiment, and I'll be doing it here on the space station to simulate the challenge that my body will experience when it returns to Earth, and to evaluate exactly how the blood returns to the heart, see how well the heart pumps, how its capacity maintains, the ability of the blood vessels to maintain pressure. And so during the mission, I'll have regular blood pressure monitoring and I'll be using a re-breathing technique in order to measure tracers in the blood, and also apply a leg cuff and then release it as if suddenly my blood pressure changed in orbit - somewhat similar to getting back to Earth.

Many astronauts returning from space experience dizziness or fainting when they stand, immediately getting back to the surface. And this of course is an important health risk for us as it reduces our potential for safely escaping from the Soyuz if we had to make an emergency landing somewhere around the world. So a better understanding of the mechanisms that lead to fainting, and tests that determine susceptibility to fainting, could reduce risks of injury to astronauts and make us safer when we get back from space flight, as well as improving life for people on Earth.


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