News | April 25, 2014

Ultrasound Study Finds Astronauts’ Hearts Become More Spherical in Space

Findings may benefit certain cardiovascular patients on Earth, too

ACC.14 Astronauts Clinical Trial Cardiovascular Ultrasound

April 25, 2014 — New findings from a clinical study of 12 astronauts show the heart becomes more spherical when exposed to long periods of microgravity in space, a change that could lead to cardiac problems, according to research to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session.

With implications for an eventual manned mission to Mars, the findings represent an important step toward understanding how a spaceflight of 18 months or more could affect astronauts’ heart health.

“The heart doesn’t work as hard in space, which can cause a loss of muscle mass,” said James Thomas, M.D., Moore Chair of cardiovascular imaging and lead scientist for ultrasound at NASA, and senior author of the study. “That can have serious consequences after the return to Earth, so we’re looking into whether there are measures that can be taken to prevent or counteract that loss.”

The researchers say that knowing the amount and type of exercise astronauts need to perform to keep the heart healthy is going to be very important to guarantee their safety on a long flight like a mission to Mars. Thomas added that exercise regimens developed for astronauts could also be used to help maintain heart health in people on Earth who have severe physical limitations, such as people on extended bed rest or those with heart failure regime.

The research team trained astronauts to take images of their hearts using ultrasound machines installed on the International Space Station. Twelve astronauts participated, providing data on heart shape before, during and after spaceflight.

The results show the heart in space becomes more spherical by a factor of 9.4 percent, a transformation similar to what scientists had predicted with sophisticated mathematical models developed for the project. By validating those models, the study could also lead to a better understanding of common cardiovascular conditions in patients on Earth.

“The models predicted the changes we observed in the astronauts almost exactly. It gives us confidence that we can move ahead and start using these models for more clinically important applications on Earth, such as to predict what happens to the heart under different stresses,” Thomas said.

The team is now working to generalize the models to analyze such conditions as ischemic heart disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and valvular heart disease.

“The models could help us simulate those pathologies to understand the impact on cardiac function,” Thomas said.

The astronauts’ more spherical heart shape appears to be temporary, with the heart returning to its normal elongated shape shortly after the return to Earth. The more spherical shape experienced in space may mean the heart is performing less efficiently, although the long-term health effects of the shape change are not known.

Spaceflight is known to cause a variety of cardiac effects. Upon return to Earth, astronauts commonly become lightheaded or pass out in a condition known as orthostatic hypotension, in which the body experiences a sudden drop in blood pressure when standing up. Arrhythmias have also been observed during space travel, and there is concern that the radiation astronauts are exposed to in space may accelerate atherosclerosis. The research team is continuing to examine these and other potential cardiovascular effects.

This study is funded by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute through NASA Cooperative Agreement NCC9-58.

For more information: www.CardioSource.org.

Related Content

#COVID19 #Coronavirus #2019nCoV #Wuhanvirus #SARScov2

Getty Images

Feature | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | April 03, 2020 | By Melinda Taschetta-Millane and Dave Fornell
In an effort to keep the imaging field updated on the latest information being released on coronavirus (COVID-19), th
An estimated 44 million people worldwide are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. About 5.8 million people in the United States live with the disease, where it is the sixth leading cause of death overall. While there is not yet a cure for Alzheimer’s, researchers are working to find treatment options to delay its onset and prevent it from developing.

Image courtesy of Insightec

Feature | Ultrasound Imaging | April 02, 2020 | By Katie Caron
An estimated 44 million people worldwide are currently living with...
#COVID19 #Coronavirus #2019nCoV #Wuhanvirus #SARScov2 Esaote won a tender launched by Consip on behalf of Civil Protection for the distribution of diagnostic equipment in Italy to face COVID-19 emergency.

Esaote won a tender launched by Consip on behalf of Civil Protection for the distribution of diagnostic equipment in Italy to face COVID-19 emergency.

News | Ultrasound Imaging | April 02, 2020
April 2, 2020 — Esaote, an Italian company among the world leader
#COVID19 #Coronavirus #2019nCoV #Wuhanvirus #SARScov2 New studies use SIRD model to forecast COVID-19 spread; examine patient CT scans to correlate clinical features with mortality

Fig 1. A sample scoring on CT images of a 63-year-old woman from mortality group demonstrated a total score of 63. It was calculated as: for upper zone (A), 3 (consolidation) × 3 (50–75% distribution) × 2 (both right and left lungs) + 2 (ground glass opacity) ×1 (< 25% distribution) × 2 (both right and left lungs); for middle zone (B), 3 (consolidation) × 2 (25–50% distribution) × 2 (both right and left lungs) + 2 (ground glass opacity) × 2 (25–50% distribution) × 2 (both right and left lungs); for lower zone (C), 3 (consolidation) × (2 (25–50% distribution of the right lung) + 3 (50–75% distribution of the left lung)) + 2 (ground glass opacity) × (2 (25–50% distribution of the right lung) + 1 (< 25% distribution of the left lung)) Yuan et al, 2020 (CC BY 4.0)

News | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | April 01, 2020
April 1, 2020 — A new study, ...
A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows an important predictor of PET-CT use

Rustain Morgan, M.D., and colleagues show racial/ethnic disparities in use of important imaging during lung cancer diagnosis. Photo courtesy of University of Colorado Cancer Center

News | PET-CT | March 12, 2020
March 12, 2020 — The use of PET-CT
SoftVue image stacks of sound speed, as shown for cases ranging across the four Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) breast density categories

Example: SoftVue image stacks of sound speed, as shown for cases ranging across the four Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) breast density categories ((a), fatty; (b), scattered; (c), heterogeneously dense; (d), extremely dense). Note the quantitative scale indicating that absolute measurements are obtained. Image courtesy of MDPI

News | Breast Imaging | March 10, 2020
March 10, 2020 — ...
Schematic depiction of the automated process for assessing fat, muscle, liver, aortic calcification, and bone from original abdominal CT scan data

Figure 1: Depiction of the fully automated CT biomarkers tools used in this study. (A) Schematic depiction of the automated process for assessing fat, muscle, liver, aortic calcification, and bone from original abdominal CT scan data. (B) Case example in an asymptomatic 52-year-old man undergoing CT for colorectal cancer screening. At the time of CT screening, he had a body-mass index of 27·3 and Framingham risk score of 5% (low risk). However, several CT-based metabolic markers were indicative of underlying disease. Multivariate Cox model prediction based on these three CT-based results put the risk of cardiovascular event at 19% within 2 years, at 40% within 5 years, and at 67% within 10 years, and the risk of death at 4% within 2 years, 11% within 5 years, and 27% within 10 years. At longitudinal clinical follow-up, the patient suffered an acute myocardial infarction 3 years after this initial CT and died 12 years after CT at the age of 64 years. (C) Contrast-enhanced CT performed 7 months before death for minor trauma was interpreted as negative but does show significant progression of vascular calcification, visceral fat, and hepatic steatosis. HU=Hounsfield units.

News | Computed Tomography (CT) | March 06, 2020
March 6, 2020 — Researchers at the National Institutes of Health a
M. Minhaj Siddiqui, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, discusses benefits of MRI-targeted biopsy to more precisely diagnose aggressive prostate cancers

M. Minhaj Siddiqui, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, discusses benefits of MRI-targeted biopsy to more precisely diagnose aggressive prostate cancers. (c) University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center

News | Prostate Cancer | March 05, 2020
March 5, 2020 — Using a combination of...
Caption Health is now accepting pre-orders for Caption AI, the only FDA authorized AI-guided ultrasound system
News | Artificial Intelligence | March 05, 2020
March 5, 2020 — Caption Health, a medical AI company, announ