Cardiovascular and Valsalva responses during parabolic flight

Todd T. Schlegel, Edgar W. Benavides, Donald C. Barker, Troy E. Brown, Deborah L. Harm, Suresh J. Desilva, Phillip A. Low

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We investigated the integrated cardiovascular responses of 15 human subjects to the acute gravitational changes (micro- and hypergravity portions) of parabolic flight. Measurements were made with subjects quietly seated and while subjects performed controlled Valsalva maneuvers. During quiet, seated, parabolic flight, mean arterial pressure increased during the transition into microgravity but decreased as microgravity was sustained. The decrease in mean arterial pressure was accompanied by immediate reflexive increases in heart rate but by absent (or later-than-expected) reflexive increases in total vascular resistance. Mean arterial pressure responses in Valsalva phases II, III, and IV were accentuated in hypergravity relative to microgravity (P < 0.01, P < 0.01, and P < 0.05, respectively), but accentuations differed qualitatively and quantitatively from those induced by a supine-to-seated postural change in 1 G. This study is the first systematic evaluation of temporal and Valsalva-related changes in cardiovascular parameters during parabolic flight. Results suggest that arterial baroreflex control of vascular resistance may be modified by alterations of cardiopulmonary, vestibular, and/or other receptor activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1957-1965
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1998


  • Baroreflex
  • Hypergravity
  • Microgravity
  • Valsalva maneuver

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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