Author(s): Inoue Y, Shibasaki M
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Abstract Ten older (aged 64-76 years) and ten younger (aged 20-24 years) healthy men were exposed to a standard heat stress [by placing the lower legs and feet in a water bath at 42 degrees C while sitting in a controlled environment (ambient temperature 35 degrees C and 45\% relative humidity) for 60 min]. During passive heating, the rectal temperature of the older men was significantly greater (P < 0.05) and mean skin temperature was lower (P < 0.001), compared to the younger men. Skin blood flow by laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF) was significantly lower on the chest and thigh for the older men (P < 0.001), but forehead LDF did not differ between the groups. The percentages of total LDF in the older men to total LDF in the younger men for the last 30 min were 99\%, 58\% and 50\% on the forehead, chest and thigh, respectively. The age-related differences in LDF responses mirrored cutaneous vascular conductances (CVC), since no group and time effects were observed in mean arterial blood pressure during the test. During the last 30 min the local sweat rates (msw) on the back and thigh were significantly lower for the older men (P < 0.02), but not on forehead, chest and forearm, although the older men had lower msw during the first 30 min exposure regardless of site (P < 0.03). The percentages of total msw in the older men to total msw in the younger men during the last 30 min were 105\%, 99\%, 63\%, 106\% and 88\% on the forehead, chest, thigh, forearm, and back, respectively. During the latter half of the exposure, the older men had similar LDF, CVC and msw on the forehead, lower LDF and CVC and a similar msw on the chest, and lower LDF, CVC and msw on the thigh, compared to the younger men. These results suggest firstly that regional differences exist in the age-related decrement of cutaneous vasodilatation as well as sweat gland function, secondly that the age-related decrement in cutaneous vascular function may precede a decrement in sweat gland function, and thirdly that the successive decrements may develop sequentially from the lower limbs to the upper body, and head.
This article was published in Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol
and referenced in Journal of Ergonomics