Cardiovascular Adjustments After Acute Heat Exposure

Steven A. Romero; Rauchelle E. Richey; Holden W. Hemingway

Disclosures

Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2022;50(4):194-202. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Abstract

In this review, we highlight recent studies from our group and others that have characterized the cardiovascular adjustments that occur after acute heat exposure. Special emphasis will be placed on underlying mechanisms and clinical implications. Finally, we postulate that these acute cardiovascular adjustments may predict the long-term adaptive response to chronic heat therapy.

Introduction

Until recently, a majority of prior investigations have focused on the cardiovascular adjustments that occur during acute heat exposure. Therefore, little was known regarding the recovery period that follows acute exposure or how these responses may vary across the life span or in pathophysiological conditions. Work from our group and others has demonstrated that the recovery period is not simply a passive return to thermal and cardiovascular homeostasis, but represents a dynamic phenomenon with distinct physiological adjustments that differ from those that occur during heat exposure. Often these adjustments represent key changes in traditional (e.g., blood pressure) and nontraditional risk factors (e.g., vascular function) that may be of benefit to various populations. In addition, these acute adjustments may set the foundation for long-term adaptations associated with chronic heat exposure (i.e., heat therapy).[1–5] Thus, a holistic understanding of the acute cardiovascular adjustments that occur after heat exposure is critical to our understanding of the therapeutic potential of this nonpharmacological therapy within the acute setting and beyond. To that end, the purpose of this brief review is to highlight recent studies that have characterized the cardiovascular adjustments that occur after acute heat exposure. Special emphasis will be placed on underlying mechanisms and clinical implications. Finally, we postulate that these acute cardiovascular adjustments may predict the long-term adaptive response to heat therapy.

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