Cardiac Function After Long-Duration Spaceflight II
Long-duration spaceflight has been shown to increase atrial size, a risk factor for atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is not more prevalent in astronauts compared to the normal population, however it occurs at a lower age. The effects of microgravity include centralization of blood volume to the upper body and chest cavity, causing a volume load on the heart. The daily exercise routine performed by astronauts to maintain health leads to further increase in load. Thus, the exercise performed to protect their health may at the same time cause harm on the heart. In this project we will study 6 astronauts before and after their 1-year mission onboard the International Space Station as well as astronauts with shorter mission duration to increase our understanding of space cardiovascular physiology and its effect on the heart. It may be technically possible to go to Mars, but maybe not with maintained health.