Abstract

To determine whether the body fluid shift from the lower limbs toward the head that occurs during spaceflight leads to lasting increases of venous pressure in the upper body, venous pressure and hematocrit measurements were made on four astronauts before flight and 1 and 12 hours after recovery and compared with measurements in space. During the mission the hematocrit was elevated and the venous pressure lowered by 1 to 8 centimeters of water as compared with the preflight data. One hour after landing the hematocrit decreased, indicating a hemodilution, venous pressures were unexpectedly high, and a body weight loss of 4 to 5 percent was observed. Twelve hours later the venous pressures were the lowest recorded during the study. The fluid shift apparently takes place during the first several hours of spaceflight. Thereafter, the pressure in the peripheral veins and the central circulation is lower than that measured before flight.