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Meet the teams: The Spin Doctors

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ESA / Education / Spin Your Thesis! Human Edition

All astronauts have problems controlling blood pressure when they return from the International Space Station. While they were in space, blood was not continuously being pulled down into the lower body by gravity and so their bodies no longer had to push the blood back up to the heart. Without the stress of gravity, it seems that the blood pressure control mechanisms in the body decondition, much like how muscles and bones weaken over time when not used. The extended lack of weight on their bodies results in difficulties in maintaining healthy blood pressure when standing on Earth. Astronauts, therefore, have a greatly increased risk of fainting until they rehabilitate. This problem of weakened blood pressure control was observed from the earliest flights of the space race and continues to this day.

Effect of short-arm centrifugation and exercise on skeletal muscle-pump baroreflex

University Simon Fraser University in Canada, Medical University of Graz in Austria
Endorsing professor Dr. Andrew Blaber, Dr. Nandu Goswami 
Team C Malcom Tremblay, Javier Dominguez Zamora, Bianca Brix, Fabian Rainer Klosz, Jacob Geβner

The Spin Doctors are an international collaboration between Simon Fraser University in Canada and the Medical University of Graz in Austria. The team is comprised of two PhD students from Canada and one PhD and two medical students from Austria, and they will be studying how centrifugation affects blood pressure control in healthy volunteers. The hypergravity and exercise the participants will experience during this study might disrupt the skeletal muscle pump and vestibular system, resulting in changed in the ability of these systems to influence the blood pressure control mechanisms and maintain balance during quiet standing.

The goal is to show that centrifugation with exercise is an effective method to stress the cardiovascular control mechanisms of these participants. If this is the case, it would be demonstrated that a centrifuge in space could be a good option for astronauts to maintain better cardiovascular health and blood pressure control.