Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Space Shuttle "Low Pressure" Pants Inspire New Diagnostic Tool For Determining Stroke Risk

Date:
May 13, 1998
Source:
Bowman Gray/baptist Hospital Medical Center
Summary:
A technique developed to help astronauts stave off problems with their blood vessels in zero gravity may become an important tool in helping prevent strokes among the estimated 50 million Americans who have high blood pressure.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A technique developed to help astronauts stave off problems with their blood vessels in zero gravity may become an important tool in helping prevent strokes among the estimated 50 million Americans who have high blood pressure.

Related Articles


The technique, which involves placing the patient's lower body in a vacuum, would let doctors know which of their patients with high blood pressure could suffer a stroke if their blood pressure is lowered too much with medication, said Dr. John Absher, assistant professor of neurology at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

"People with high blood pressure have hardening of the arteries, and when your arteries get hard, too much of a drop in blood pressure can produce problems," Absher said.

Absher presented the results of his small-scale study involving 10 patients today at a meeting of the Space and Underwater Research Group of the World Federation of Neurology. The meeting is being coordinated by the Stroke Research Center at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

In space, astronauts spend time wearing special pants hooked up to a vacuum that lowers the pressure around their legs. This pulls blood to their legs, mimicking the effect of gravity and preventing "vascular deconditioning," Absher said.

By adapting this technique, doctors could determine at what blood pressure a patient might be a risk of stroke or "silent stroke" -- a gradual loss of adequate blood flow to the brain that can go unnoticed.

Doctors have long known about the problem, Absher said, "but no one has had a way to test it."

In his study, Absher sealed off the lower bodies of patients with high blood pressure in a plastic drum and then used a vacuum to lower the pressure inside the drum. This lowers blood pressure in the brain by pooling blood in the legs. During this process Absher took images of blood flow in the brain with a PET scan to determine at what point the blood pressure dropped to the point that the brain was not getting enough oxygen.

"It's a safe and reproducible way to see what happens when blood pressure drops," Absher said.

He compared the technique to the standard treadmill test for heart disease patients. Doctors stop a treadmill test when the patient begins to exhibit signs of interrupted blood flow, and it takes a few minutes to settle down. With his test, once symptoms begin, the test is stopped and "flow returns to normal in 10 seconds."

"We know we have 25 percent of the people who have high blood pressure and even though we are treating these people with medication to lower their blood pressure, some of them continue to have strokes," he said.

"Part of the reason might be we don't know how low they can go safely and we haven't had a way to measure that risk," Absher said. "This technique may be able to help us do that."

The American Heart Association estimates that 50 million Americans have high blood pressure. High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for stroke, which is what happens when a blood vessel serving the brain is blocked by a blood clot or hemorrhages, impairing the flow of oxygen to that part of the brain. About 500,000 Americans suffer stroke every year. Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States.

The four-day meeting -- the Congress on Cerebral Ischemia, Vascular Dementia, Epilepsy and CNS Injury: New Aspects of Prevention and Treatment from Space and Underwater Exploration -- concludes at noon Wednesday at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, formerly the Sheraton Washington.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Bowman Gray/baptist Hospital Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Bowman Gray/baptist Hospital Medical Center. "Space Shuttle "Low Pressure" Pants Inspire New Diagnostic Tool For Determining Stroke Risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 May 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/05/980513080254.htm>.
Bowman Gray/baptist Hospital Medical Center. (1998, May 13). Space Shuttle "Low Pressure" Pants Inspire New Diagnostic Tool For Determining Stroke Risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/05/980513080254.htm
Bowman Gray/baptist Hospital Medical Center. "Space Shuttle "Low Pressure" Pants Inspire New Diagnostic Tool For Determining Stroke Risk." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/05/980513080254.htm (accessed March 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) — A popular class of antibiotic can leave patients in severe pain and even result in permanent nerve damage. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — The White House on Friday announced a five-year plan to fight the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria amid fears that once-treatable germs could become deadly. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) — In rare bipartisan harmony, congressional leaders pushed a $214 billion bill permanently blocking physician Medicare cuts toward House passage Thursday, moving lawmakers closer to resolving a problem that has plagued them for years. (March 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins