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Clin Sci (Lond). 2007 Feb;112(3):193-201.

Leg crossing with muscle tensing, a physical counter-manoeuvre to prevent syncope, enhances leg blood flow.

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Department of Physiology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


In patients with orthostatic intolerance, the mechanisms to maintain BP (blood pressure) fail. A physical counter-manoeuvre to postpone or even prevent orthostatic intolerance in these patients is leg crossing combined with muscle tensing. Although the central haemodynamic effects of physical counter-manoeuvres are well documented, not much is known about the peripheral haemodynamic events. Therefore the purpose of the present study was to examine the peripheral haemodynamic effects of leg crossing combined with muscle tensing during 70 degrees head-up tilt. Healthy subjects (n=13) were monitored for 10 min in the supine position followed by 10 min in 70 degrees head-up tilt and, finally, for 2 min of leg crossing with muscle tensing in 70 degrees head-up tilt. MAP (mean arterial BP), heart rate, stroke volume, cardiac output and total peripheral resistance were measured continuously by Portapres. Leg blood flow was measured using Doppler ultrasound. Leg vascular conductance was calculated as leg blood flow/MAP. A significant increase in MAP (13 mmHg), stroke volume (27%) and cardiac output (18%), a significant decrease in heart rate (-5 beats/min) and no change in total peripheral resistance during the physical counter-manoeuvre were observed when compared with baseline 70 degrees head-up tilt. A significant increase in leg blood flow (325 ml/min) and leg vascular conductance (2.9 arbitrary units) were seen during the physical counter-manoeuvre when compared with baseline 70 degrees head-up tilt. In conclusion, the present study indicates that the physical counter-manoeuvre of leg crossing combined with muscle tensing clearly enhances leg blood flow and, at the same time, elevates MAP.

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