Custaud MA; Maillet A; Güell A; Kaspranski R;
Hughson RL; Gharib C; Fortrat JO
Laboratoire de Physiologie de l'Environnement (Groupement d'Interêt Public de l'Exercise E2S, EA 645), Faculté de Médecine Lyon Grange-Blanche, Lyon, France.
Astronauts returning from spaceflight often experience post-flight orthostatic intolerance. This study was designed to determine whether cosmonauts with post-flight syncope could be distinguished from those with no post-flight syncope. The autonomic function was determined in a group of ten subjects, with no previous history of syncope, during a stand test before and after a long-term spaceflight (90 to 198 days). Heart rate (HR) and systolic blood pressure (SBP) were measured beat-by-beat, pre- and post-flight and the spontaneous baroreflex sensitivity and HR variability were studied. Individuals were categorized according to their ability to remain standing for 5 min the day after landing. Three of the ten cosmonauts failed to finish the standing test performed the day after landing (nonfinishers). The spontaneous baroreflex slope was reduced in both groups after the spaceflight. The non-finisher group had a lower SBP (P < 0.05) at rest in pre-flight tests than the group that completed the test (finisher group). The non-finisher group also had higher indicators of parasympathetic activity when supine, both pre- and post-flight, but this difference disappeared with standing. At the end of the stand test, SBP and HR were lower in non-finisher cosmonauts than the finishers, while HR did not increase compared to early measurements in the stand test of the finisher group. These results suggest an impairment in autonomic control of HR, which might contribute to the fainting response.