Spaceflights are certainly not for everybody, as astronauts have to undergo a serious training program before beaming up into the skies. After a study on retired astronaut Scott Kelly who spent about a year on the International Space Station, scientists discovered something unexpected.
The Jerusalem Post writes that the former astronaut’s heart physically shrank as a result of his spaceflight. Those scientists who came to the incredible conclusion were from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
No heart issues
Kelly’s heart continues to work normally, although it shrank by a minute degree. He lost about 0.74 grams from his heart’s mass for each week spent on the ISS. The former astronaut has also been through a strict exercise regimen, which is amazing in the context of his shrunk heart.
Prof. Benjamin Levine, the lead author of the study and a professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern, declared:
It did shrink a little bit. It did atrophy and it did get a little smaller, but the function remained good.
He also added:
I think this is encouraging for long-duration space flight. It shows that even after a year in space, the heart adapts relatively well.
Thirteen other astronauts who were on space journeys for a minimum of six months were also studied by Prof. Levine. He concluded that the heart’s adjustment to zero-gravity depends on the astronaut, and most of those space travellers lost muscle mass. The reason is simple, as Levine reveals that “It all depended on how much work the astronaut’s heart did in space relative to how much it regularly did on the ground.”
The results were published in the academic journal Circulation, and the research was done in anticipation of the preparations of NASA to send people to Mars.