Bed rest increases pressure distension in arteries, arterioles, and veins of the leg. We hypothesized that bed-rest-induced deconditioning of leg vessels is governed by the removal of the local increments in transmural pressure induced by assuming erect posture and, therefore, can be counteracted by intermittently increasing local transmural pressure during the bed rest. Ten men underwent 5 wk of horizontal bed rest. A subatmospheric pressure (−90 mmHg) was intermittently applied to one lower leg [pressure habituation (PH) leg]. Vascular pressure distension was investigated before and after the bed rest, both in the PH and control (CN) leg by increasing local distending pressure, stepwise up to +200 mmHg. Vessel diameter and blood flow were measured in the posterior tibial artery and vessel diameter in the posterior tibial vein. In the CN leg, bed rest led to 5-fold and 2.7-fold increments (P < 0.01) in tibial artery pressure-distension and flow responses, respectively, and to a 2-fold increase in tibial vein pressure distension. In the PH leg, arterial pressure-distension and flow responses were unaffected by bed rest, whereas bed rest led to a 1.5-fold increase in venous pressure distension. It thus appears that bed-rest-induced deconditioning of leg arteries, arterioles, and veins is caused by removal of gravity-dependent local pressure loads and may be abolished or alleviated by a local pressure-habituation regimen.
- arterial stiffness
- vascular remodeling
- venous compliance
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