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default user The Human Sympathetic Nervous System Response to Spaceflight
Started by 12-07-2012 09:17:19, Aishwarya

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Aishwarya #1
Since: Dec 7, 2012
1 posts
Non ANSiscope User
Posted 12-07-2012 09:17:19
The sympathetic nervous system is an important part of the autonomic (or automatic) nervous system. When an individual stands up, the sympathetic nervous system speeds the heart and constricts blood vessels to prevent a drop in blood pressure. A significant number of astronauts experience a drop in blood pressure when standing for prolonged periods after they return from spaceflight. Difficulty maintaining blood pressure with standing is also a daily problem for many patients. Indirect evidence available before the Neuro lab mission suggested the problem in astronauts while in space might be due partially to reduced sympathetic nervous system activity. The purpose of this experiment was to identify whether sympathetic activity was reduced during spaceflight. Sympathetic nervous system activity can be determined in part by measuring heart rate, nerve activity going to blood vessels, and the release of the hormone norepinephrine into the blood. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter discharged from active sympathetic nerve terminals, so its rate of release can serve as a marker of sympathetic nervous system action. In addition to standard cardiovascular measurements (heart rate, blood pressure), we determined sympathetic nerve activity as well as norepinephrine release and clearance on four crew members on the Neuro lab mission. Contrary to our expectation, the results demonstrated that the astronauts had mildly elevated resting sympathetic nervous system activity in space. Sympathetic nervous system responses to stresses that simulated the cardiovascular effects of standing (lower body negative pressure) were brisk both during and after spaceflight. We concluded that, in the astronauts tested, the activity and
response of the sympathetic nervous system to cardiovascular stresses appeared intact and mildly elevated both during and after spaceflight. These changes returned to normal within a few days.

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