Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Abhijit R. Patwardhan


Orthostatic intolerance (OI), i.e., the inability to maintain stable arterial pressure during upright posture, is a major problem for astronauts after spaceflight. Therefore, one important goal of spaceflight-related research is the development of countermeasures to prevent post flight OI. Given the rarity and expense of spaceflight, countermeasure development requires ground-based simulations of partial gravity to induce appropriate orthostatic effects on the human body, and to test the efficacy of potential countermeasures.

To test the efficacy of upright lower body positive pressure (LBPP) as a model for simulating cardiovascular responses to lunar and Martian gravities on Earth, cardiovascular responses to upright LBPP were compared with those of head-up tilt (HUT), a well-accepted simulation of partial gravity, in both ambulatory and cardiovascularly deconditioned subjects. Results indicate that upright LBPP and HUT induced similar changes in cardiovascular regulation, supporting the use of upright LBPP as a potential model for simulating cardiovascular responses to standing and moving in lunar and Martian gravities.

To test the efficacy of a short exposure to artificial gravity (AG) as a countermeasure to spaceflight-induced OI, orthostatic tolerance limits (OTL) and cardiovascular responses to orthostatic stress were tested in cardiovascularly deconditioned subjects, using combined 70º head-up tilt and progressively increased lower body negative pressure, once following 90 minutes AG exposure and once following 90 minutes of -6º head-down bed rest (HDBR). Results indicate that a short AG exposure increased OTL of cardiovascularly deconditioned subjects, with increased baroreflex and sympathetic responsiveness, compared to those measured after HDBR exposure.

To gain more insight into mechanisms of causal connectivity in cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory oscillations during orthostatic challenge in both ambulatory and cardiovascularly deconditioned subjects, couplings among R-R intervals (RRI), systolic blood pressure (SBP) and respiratory oscillations in response to graded HUT and dehydration were studied using a phase synchronization approach. Results indicate that increasing orthostatic stress disassociated interactions among RRI, SBP and respiration, and that dehydration exacerbated the disconnection. The loss of causality from SBP to RRI following dehydration suggests that dehydration also reduced involvement of baroreflex regulation, which may contribute to the increased occurrence of OI.