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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2005 Oct;99(4):1293-300. Epub 2005 Jun 2.

Vascular adaptation to deconditioning and the effect of an exercise countermeasure: results of the Berlin Bed Rest study.

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Department of Physiology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, The Netherlands.


Deconditioning is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The physiology of vascular adaptation to deconditioning has not been elucidated. The purpose of the present study was to assess the effects of bed rest deconditioning on vascular dimension and function of leg conduit arteries. In addition, the effectiveness of resistive vibration exercise as a countermeasure for vascular deconditioning during bed rest was evaluated. Sixteen healthy men were randomly assigned to bed rest (BR-Ctrl) or to bed rest with resistive vibration exercise (BR-RVE). Before and after 25 and 52 days of strict horizontal bed rest, arterial diameter, blood flow, flow-mediated dilatation (FMD), and nitroglycerin-mediated dilatation were measured by echo Doppler ultrasound. In the BR-Ctrl group, the diameter of the common femoral artery decreased by 13 +/- 3% after 25 and 17 +/- 1% after 52 days of bed rest (P < 0.001). In the BR-RVE group this decrease in diameter was significantly attenuated (5 +/- 2% after 25 days and 6 +/- 2% after 52 days, P < 0.01 vs. BR-Ctrl). Baseline blood flow did not change after bed rest in either group. After 52 days of bed rest, FMD and nitroglycerin-mediated dilatation of the superficial femoral artery were increased in both groups, possibly by increased nitric oxide sensitivity. In conclusion, bed rest deconditioning is accompanied by a reduction in the diameter of the conduit arteries and by an increased reactivity to nitric oxide. Resistive vibration exercise effectively attenuates the diameter decrease of leg conduit arteries after bed rest.

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