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Cardiac Atrophy and Diastolic Dysfunction During and After Long-Duration Spaceflight: Functional Consequences for Orthostatic Intolerance, Exercise Capacity, and Risk of Cardiac Arrhythmias (99-E377)
Research Area:
Cardiovascular physiology
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

Cardiac atrophy appears to develop during space flight or during ground-based analogues, leading to diastolic dysfunction and orthostatic hypotension. Such atrophy may also be a potential mechanism for the cardiac arrhythmias recently identified in some crewmembers after long-duration exposure to microgravity aboard the Mir space station. Recent work by the investigators of this flight experiment has suggested that cardiac atrophy may be progressive, without a clear plateau over at least 12 weeks of bed rest, and thus may be a significant limiting factor for extended duration space missions. The purpose of this experiment is to quantify the extent and time course of cardiac atrophy and identify its mechanisms. The functional consequences of this atrophy will also be determined for cardiac filling dynamics, orthostatic tolerance at 1G and fractional G (Mars and moon) conditions, exercise tolerance, and arrhythmia susceptibility both in space on the International Space Station, and following return to earth.  

The main objectives of this experiment are:

•   To determine the magnitude of left and right ventricular atrophy associated with long-duration space flight (via pre- and postflight MRI's), to relate this atrophy to measures of physical activity and cardiac work in flight, and to determine the time course and pattern of progression of cardiac atrophy in flight (using cardiac ultrasound)

•   To determine the functional importance of cardiac atrophy for orthostatic tolerance and the regulation of stroke volume.

•  To identify changes in ventricular conduction and repolarization during and after long-duration space flight.

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Dorfman TA, Levine BD, Tillery T, Peshock RM, Hastings JL, Schneider SM, Macias BR, Biolo G, Hargens AR. Cardiac atrophy in women following bed rest. J Appl Physiol. 2007 Jul;103(1):8-16. Epub 2007 Mar 22. []

Cardiovascular physiology
Cardiovascular system
Exercise tolerance
Orthostatic hypotension
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Data Information
Data Availability
Archiving in Progress. Some restricted access data exist for this experiment.
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Blood pressure
Central venous pressure
Heart rate
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Expedition 20 05/27/2009 10/11/2009 137 days
Expedition 21 10/11/2009 12/01/2009 51 days
Expedition 22 11/30/2009 03/18/2010 109 days
Expedition 23 03/18/2010 06/01/2010 75 days
Expedition 24 06/01/2010 09/25/2010 117 days
Expedition 25 09/24/2010 11/25/2010 31 days
Expedition 26 11/26/2010 03/16/2011 111 days
Expedition 27 03/14/2011 05/23/2011 70 days
Expedition 28 05/23/2011 09/15/2011 115 days
Expedition 29 09/16/2011 11/21/2011 40 days
Expedition 30 11/14/2011 04/27/2012 166 days
Expedition 31 04/27/2012 07/01/2012 65 days
Expedition 32 07/01/2012 09/16/2012 78 days
Expedition 33 09/16/2012 11/18/2012 63 days
Expedition 34 11/18/2012 03/15/2013 117 days
Expedition 35 03/15/2013 05/13/2013 58 days

Human Research Program (HRP) Human Research Roadmap (HRR) Information
Crew health and performance is critical to successful human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. The Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to human health and performance, providing essential countermeasures and technologies for human space exploration. Risks include physiological and performance effects from hazards such as radiation, altered gravity, and hostile environments, as well as unique challenges in medical support, human factors, and behavioral health support. The HRP utilizes an Integrated Research Plan (IRP) to identify the approach and research activities planned to address these risks, which are assigned to specific Elements within the program. The Human Research Roadmap is the web-based tool for communicating the IRP content.

The Human Research Roadmap is located at:

+ Click here for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Jessica Keune
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Alternate Experiment Name
Integrated Cardio
Protocol / Approach
Proposal Source
Hardware Items