Heart rate monitoring and control in altered gravity conditions.

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On the basis of indirect evidences it has been hypothesized that during space missions the almost complete absence of gravity might impair the baroreflex control of circulation. In the first part of this paper we report results obtained from a series of experiments carried out to directly verify this hypothesis during the 16-day STS 107 Shuttle flight. Spontaneous baroreflex sensitivity was assessed in four astronauts before flight (baseline) and at days 0-1, 6-7 and 12-13 during flight, both at rest and while performing moderate exercise. Our results indicate that at rest the baroreflex sensitivity significantly increased in the early flight phase, as compared to pre-flight values and tended to return to baseline in the mid-late phase of flight. During exercise, baroreflex sensitivity was lower than at rest, without any difference among pre-flight and in-flight values. These findings seem to exclude the hypothesis of an impairment of the baroreflex control of heart rate during exposure to microgravity, at least over a time window of 16 days. In the second part of the paper we propose a novel textile-based methodology for heart rate and other vital signs monitoring during gravity stress. The positive results obtained from its use during parachute jumps support the use of smart garments for the unobtrusive assessment of physiological parameters in extreme environments.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Signal Processing
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Health Informatics


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