Leg mass and lower body negative pressure tolerance in men and women

Lori A. Lawler, John R. Halliwill, Jolene M. Summer, Michael J. Joyner, Sharon L. Mulvagh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


To explore the hypothesis that lower body muscle mass correlates with orthostatic tolerance, 18 healthy volunteers (age 18-48 yr; 10 men, 8 women) underwent a graded lower body negative pressure (LBNP) protocol consisting of six, 5-min stages of suction up to 60 mmHg in 10-mmHg increments. Forearm blood flow, heart rate, and blood pressure were measured, and forearm vascular resistance was calculated. Leg muscle mass was assessed by dual- energy X-ray absorptiometry. All subjects received standard intravenous hydration for at least 8 h before the study. Six men and four women completed all stages of LBNP. Four men and four women developed presyncopal symptoms, including marked bradycardia and/or hypotension, at LBNP levels of 30 mmHg (n = 2; 1 man, 1 woman), 40 mmHg (n = 2; 1 man, 1 woman), and 50 mmHg (n = 4; 2 men, 2 women). The presyncopal subjects had leg muscle masses ranging from 19.5 to 25.2 kg in men and from 11.7 to 16.6 kg in women. In subjects who completed all stages of LBNP, leg muscle mass ranged from 17.5 to 24.1 kg in men and from 10.4 to 18.0 kg in women. Leg muscle mass did not differ between presyncopal subjects and those who completed the protocol. Furthermore, there were no differences in the hemodynamic responses to LBNP between subjects with low vs. high leg mass. These data suggest that leg muscle mass is not a critical determinant of LBNP tolerance in otherwise healthy men and women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1471-1475
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1998


  • Body composition
  • Orthostatic tolerance
  • Vascular compliance
  • Vasoconstriction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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