Tsukasa Ikemura1,2 and Naoyuki Hayashi2
The hypothesis that heat stress reduces the ocular blood flow response to exhaustive exercise was tested by measuring ocular blood flow, blood pressure, and end- tidal carbon dioxide partial pressure (PETCO2) in 12 healthy males while they performed cycle ergometer exercise at 75% of the maximal heart rate at ambient temperatures of 20ºC (control condition) and 35ºC (heat condition), until exhaustion. The blood flows in the retinal and choroidal vasculature (RCV), the superior temporal retinal arteriole (STRA) and the superior nasal retinal arteriole (SNRA) were recorded at rest and at 6 and 16 min after the start of exercise period and at exhaustion [after 16 ± ۲ min (mean ± SE) and 24 ± ۳ min of exercise in the heat and control condition, respectively]. The mean arterial pressure at exhaustion was significantly lower in the heat condition than in the control condition at both 16 min and exhaustion. The degree of PETCO2 reduction did not differ significantly between the two thermal conditions at either 16 min or exhaustion. The blood flow velocity in the RCV significantly increased from the resting baseline value at 6 min in both thermal conditions (32 ± ۶% and 25 ± ۵% at 20ºC and 35ºC, respectively). However, at 16 min the increase in RCV blood flow velocity had returned to the resting baseline level only in the heat condition. At exhaustion, the blood flows in the STRA and SNRA had decreased significantly from the resting baseline value in the heat condition (STRA: -19 ± ۵% and SNRA: -30 ± ۶%), and SNRA blood flow was lower than that in the control condition (-14 ± ۶% vs -30 ± ۶% at 20ºC and 35ºC, respectively), despite the finding that both thermal conditions induced the same reductions in PETCO2 and vascular conductance. These findings suggested that the heat condition decreases or suppresses ocular blood flow via attenuation of pressor response during exhaustive exercise.
Key words: Hyperthermia, exercise, healthy subjects, retinal circulation, choroidal circulation, laser-speckle flowgraphy