Estrogen replacement in middle-aged women: Thermoregulatory responses to exercise in the heat

C. G. Tankersley, W. C. Nicholas, D. R. Deaver, D. Mikita, William Lawrence Kenney, Jr.

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Thermoregulatory, cardiovascular, and body fluid responses during exercise in the heat were tested in five middle-aged (48 ± 2 yr) women before and after 14-23 days of estrogen replacement therapy (ERT). The heat and exercise challenge consisted of a 40-min rest period followed by semirecumbent cycle exercise (~40% maximal O2 uptake) for 60 min. At rest, the ambient temperature was elevated from a thermoneutral (dry bulb temperature 25°C; wet bulb temperature 17.5°C) to a warm humid (dry bulb temperature 36°C; wet bulb temperature 27.5°C) environment. Esophageal (T(es)) and rectal (T(re)) temperatures were measured to estimate body core temperature while arm blood flow and sweating rate were measured to assess the heat loss response. Mean arterial pressure and heart rate were measured to evaluate the cardiovascular response. Blood samples were analyzed for hematocrit (Hct), hemoglobin ([Hb]), plasma 17β-estradiol (E2), progesterone (P4), protein, and electrolyte concentrations. Plasma [E2] was significantly (P < 0.05) elevated by ERT without affecting the plasma [P4] levels. After ERT, T(es) and T(re) were significantly (P < 0.05) depressed by ~0.5°C, and the T(es) threshold for the onset of arm blood flow and sweating rate was significantly (P < 0.05) lower during exercise. After ERT, heart rate during exercise was significantly lower (P < 0.05) without notable variation in mean arterial pressure. Isotonic hemodilution occurred with ERT evident by significant (P < 0.05) reductions in Hct and [Hb], whereas plasma tonicity remained unchanged. These data suggest that the thermoregulatory and cardiovascular strain experienced during heat and exercise is reduced after ERT in middle-aged women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1238-1245
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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