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Effects of Space on the Human Body

SBI 4U1 - Unit 16 NASA Quest

Chrystal Lucero

on 22 November 2016

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Transcript of Effects of Space on the Human Body

Effects on the Heart:
Specialized neurons, known as baroreceptors, in the aortic arch, carotid sinuses, and elsewhere to monitor changes in blood pressure and relay them to the brainstem. Baroreceptors are stretch receptors and respond to the pressure induced stretching of the blood vessel in which they are found. Baroreflex mechanisms modulate changes in autonomic cardiovascular function such as blood pressure.
Effects on Blood Pressure:
As the head and brain fills with fluid, it causes short-term effects such as pounding headaches and congestion. Since the ears are also affected, it can cause disorientation and nausea within minutes of entering microgravity. This in turn affects the heart as it changes its stroke volume and heart rate in order to decrease the blood pressure in their heads. The baroreceptors sense this fluid shift to the brain as an increased blood supply instead of fluid redistribution, and signal the kidneys to decrease the volume of blood and fluids by producing urine which takes out water. This can result in dehydration as well as a loss of minerals such as calcium which is needed in bones.

Space anemia refers to the decrease in red blood cells, up to 15%, astronauts experience during long stays in space due to kidneys eliminating excess fluid. After a few months in space, the body adapts to the same environment and the blood pressure throughout the body has overall dropped and is distributed evenly; they lose their hydrostatic pressure gradient. Upon re-entry to earth and gravity, the blood that has been evenly distributed among the body in space will then quickly fall towards the feet, leaving a lack of blood pressure in the brain. This orthostatic intolerance means astronauts are prone to fainting once they land and it takes a while for their body to readjust its volume and pressure, however it does return to normal along with the red blood cells count.
Effects of Space on the Human Body
The Cardiovascular System
Counteracting Space's Effects on the Human Body
Transports nutrients, gases and waste products throughout the body
Provides body parts with oxygen
Maintains constant body temperature (thermoregulation)
Maintains body's fluid balance
Main parts of the system include: the heart, blood vessels and blood
The Cardiovascular System
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Weight bearing exercise counteracts microgravity

The human body is accustomed to live on earth's gravity but the body must adapt itself to survive in a microgravity environment, which is space. The main parts of the body that are effected in space are the bones, muscles, cardiovascular system, and balance system. Doctors and scientists are trying their best to find methods and equipment to keep the body safe in space. A lot of research is done to protect the body due to the changes that can occur with fluids in the body which is known as fluid shift; even sleep and performance can be altered. Bones can be brittle and weak, loss of muscle mass and muscle weakness, a possible decrease in heart size, spinal disks expand, and loss in hearing are just some medical problems astronauts are trying to protect themselves from. Efforts are being taken to aid the astronauts going to space to prevent all possible medical complications despite the risks being there.
Compared to other body systems, effects on the cardiovascular system appear early in the spaceflight journey. Gravity isn’t as important in aiding blood circulation however we have evolved overtime to function in a 1g environment (earth). In humans, the heart is located in the upper portion of the body as a means of pumping sufficient amounts of blood to the brain while working with and against gravity, thus creating a hydrostatic pressure gradient.

On earth, the heart pumps blood throughout our bodies, working with and against gravity and thus creating a hydrostatic pressure gradient. When standing or sitting, blood tends to pool in the lower extremities due to gravity pulling it down. Blood vessels constrict in order to push blood back up to the heart and to our upper bodies, working against gravity. However, in microgravity, blood can’t pool in the legs and feet areas since gravity isn’t pulling it down, but instead flows to the head and chest, causing puffy faces and bulging veins in the astronauts’ necks.

The main result caused by the loss of gravity is disuse atrophy which is the loss of heart mass due to the pumping of blood becoming an easier task, causing the heart muscle fiber to shrink and weaken to better suit its environment. Shrinkage of the heart muscle causes heart rate to rise and blood pressure to increase. Also, since the blood vessels in the lower body no longer have to work as hard against gravity, they become “lazy” and can lead to atherosclerosis which is the loss of elasticity of arteries. This lack of blood flow to the legs results in loss of muscle which makes them weaker and thus physically demanding tasks become harder to do. These are known as “puff-face” and “bird-legs” syndrome.
Cycle Ergometer
like a bicycle, and the main activity is pedaling.
It is used to measure fitness in space because it's easy to check heart rate and how much work is being done.
Walking is the single most important way to keep bones and muscles healthy. Because the lack of gravity tends to make people float, harnesses are attached to the astronauts to hold them to the walking surface.

Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) devices
a device is an invaluable tool deployed to research human cardiovascular physiology during physiological stress. The subject’s blood volume is pulled down from the center of the body to the legs and pelvic vessels.
used as a countermeasure in space to keep the cardiovascular system trained for gravity.
Research in the LBNP also provides insights into the integrative physiology of the endogenous physiological counter-measures such as cardiac function, blood vessel hemodynamics, and tissue oxygenation.

Supplements (Calcium Building)
Calcium is a nutrient that is essential for strong bones. 99% percent of your body's calcium is stored in your bones and teeth. The other 1% of your body's calcium is found in blood.
Blood calcium is necessary to support your body's critical functions such as controlling your blood pressure and maintaining your heartbeat.
Calcium supplements are standard for treating and preventing osteoporosis -- weak and easily broken bones -- and its precursor, osteopenia.
Elasticized Suits ( ''penguin'' suits)

SBI 4U1 - Unit 16 - NASA Quest

Flavia Koncz - Bozek - 03
Geniffer Emmanuel - Bozek - 02
Donna Benosa - Bozek - 02
Chrystal Lucero - Bozek - 02
Shamita Sivakumar - Engalla - 03
The Penguin suit is a special, lightweight suit to be worn in space flight, which would counteract the harmful effects of weightlessness on the body: Bone density loss, altered integration of sensory responses muscle atrophy, altered integration of motor responses, cardiovascular changes, and bodily fluid balance.

Although the cardiovascular system generally functions well in space, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard in the microgravity environment. Over time, this could lead to deconditioning and a decrease in the size of the heart. There is also a concern that space radiation may affect endothelial cells, the lining of blood vessels, which might initiate or accelerate coronary heart disease. They are simultaneously examining the efficacy of countermeasures, such as those shown below.
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