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Astronauts and Cardiovascular Disease

Delp et al report on the mortality rate  among three groups of astronauts: no orbital mission, low earth mission, Apollo lunar mission. The authors found a high rate of cardiovascular mortality for the Apollo astronauts. The authors then performed functional and protein expression studies on the gastrocnemius feeding arteries and coronary arteries  of mice 6 to 7 months after simulation of “weightlessness”, radiation and both versus a control group. Vasodilator responses to Acetyl Choline were significantly impaired in both active groups, vasoconstriction was not significantly different. Xanthine oxidase expression was raised in the intervention groups. The authors  suggest these findings have important implications for human deep space exploration.


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