In a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, NASA scientists reviewed extensive data collected at the Johnson Space Center from nine astronauts. Each had spent a prolonged time in space aboard the International Space Station.
Prolonged Time in Space Reduces Cardiovascular Capability
“It is a dramatic decrease…when your cardiovascular function decreases, your aerobic exercise capacity goes down,” said Carl Ade, a Professor at Kansas State University involved in the study.
Professor Ade pointed out that this decrease means that a person cannot carry out physically challenging activities, not anymore. That could be a big problem for astronauts on a long term mission. Especially so during an emergency. Spending a prolonged time in space already has many dangers. As it is, this limited physical endurance can exacerbate any of them.
While this new research has presented another consequence of zero gravity, it may also provide a key to understanding how the heart and blood vessels work, especially in older and infirm patients.