The hypothesis that upright posture could modulate forearm blood flow (FBF) early in exercise was tested in six subjects. Both single (2-s duration) and repeated (1-s work/2-s rest cadence for 12 contractions) handgrip contractions (12 kg) were performed in the supine and 70°head-up tilt (HUT) positions. The arm was maintained at heart level to diminish myogenic effects. Baseline brachial artery diameters were assessed at rest in each position. Brachial artery mean blood velocity (MBV; Doppler) and mean arterial pressure (MAP) (Finapres) were measured continuously to calculate FBF and vascular conductance. MAP was not changed with posture. Antecubital venous pressure (P(v)) was reduced in HUT (4.55 ± 1.3 mmHg) compared with supine (11.3 ± 1.9 mmHg) (P < 0.01). For the repeated contractions, total excess FBF (TEF) was reduced in the HUT position compared with supine (P < 0.02). With the single contractions, peak FBF, peak vascular conductance, and TEF during 30 s after release of the contraction were reduced in the HUT position compared with supine (P < 0.01). Sympathetic blockade augmented the FBF response to a single contraction in HUT (P < 0.05) and tended to increase this response while supine (P = 0.08). However, sympathetic blockade did not attenuate the effect of HUT on peak FBF and TEF after the single contractions. Raising the arm above heart level while supine, to diminish P(v), resulted in FBF dynamics that were similar to those observed during HUT. Alternatively, lowering the arm while in HUT to restore P(v) to supine levels restored the peak FBF and vascular conductance responses, but not TEF response, after a single contraction. It was concluded that upright posture diminishes the hyperemic response early in exercise. The data demonstrate that sympathetic constriction restrains the hyperemic response to a single contraction but does not modulate the postural reduction in postcontraction hyperemia. Therefore, the attenuated blood flow response in the HUT posture was largely related to factors associated with diminished venous pressures and not sympathetic vasoconstriction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1434-R1442
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number5 45-5
StatePublished - May 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Upright posture reduces forearm blood flow early in exercise'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this