Cardiovascular deconditioning (CD) has been reported to occur in weightlessness, bed rest, and head-out water immersion. An expanded intrathoracic blood volume results, at least initially, in all these diverse conditions. Subjects in hyperbaric environments exhibit cephalad redistribution of blood volume, which also occurs in weightlessness, bed rest, and head-out water immersion. This physiologic similarity led us to suspect that CD may also occur as a consequence of hyperbaric exposure. We examined this possibility in 3 young male subjects during a 7-d dry saturation dive at 31 ATA. Changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and stroke volume were measured before and during 15 min of the 90 degree body tilt. These changes, expressed either singly or in combination, provided indications of CD during and immediately after hyperbaric exposure. One of the principal indicators of CD was the inability to exert adequate vasoconstriction. In addition, 1 subject fainted during hyperbaric exposure, whereas no such episode occurred before or after the exposure. These findings suggest that inappropriate orthostatic reflexes may be evoked by hyperbaria and reduced physical activity over the period of confinement. It should be noted, however, that CD was already evident within 24 h of hyperbaric exposure, suggesting that the initial phase of CD was unrelated to physical confinement. We postulate that CD occurs during hyperbaric exposure as an expression of cardiovascular and neurohumoral adaptation to an expanded central blood volume with a reduced total blood volume.
Arita, Lin, Sudoh, Kuwahira, Ohta, Saiki, Tamaya, Nakayama, (1987). Seadragon VI: a 7-day saturation dive at 31 ATA. V. Cardiovascular responses to a 90 degree body tilt. Undersea biomedical research, 1987 Sep;14(5):425-36. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3672653