Back to Journals » Research Reports in Clinical Cardiology » Volume 5

Possible space flight-induced catecholamine cardiomyopathy: Neil Armstrong's last 20 lunar minutes

Authors Rowe W

Received 15 October 2013

Accepted for publication 5 November 2013

Published 17 January 2014 Volume 2014:5 Pages 33—39


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

William J Rowe

Former Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, Medical University of Ohio at Toledo, Ohio, USA

Abstract: The hypothesis underpinning this paper is that space flight may predispose to catecholamine cardiomyopathy. Catecholamine levels in space are twice those of the supine levels on Earth. Serum magnesium levels are significantly reduced, with potential vicious cycles triggered by elevation of catecholamines. These are conducive to coronary vasospasm with clot formation from oxidative stress and calcium overload, and ultimately, temporary impairment of left ventricular function could occur. Experimental animals in space have shown a significant increase in norepinephrine levels with various microcirculatory disorders and serious myocardial pathology. During extravehicular activity (space walks), astronauts show heart rates of 150–174 beats per minute. Before exposure to the iron-laden dust brought into the habitat on his space suit, Neil Armstrong's heart rates on the lunar surface were 130–160 beats per minute, and accompanied by dyspnea on two occasions during his last 20 minutes on the moon. A stress test done on the day after splashdown was consistent with "ischemic left ventricular dysfunction". To support this hypothesis, echocardiography on the international space station might show left ventricular hypokinesia. Alpha adrenergic blockade, correction of invariable significant magnesium deficits, along with correction of invariable atrial natriuretic peptide deficits, may counteract the vasoconstrictive action of norepinephrine.

Keywords: space flight, catecholamines, cardiomyopathy, magnesium, oxidative stress, heat intolerance, calcium

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]


Readers of this article also read:

Green synthesis of water-soluble nontoxic polymeric nanocomposites containing silver nanoparticles

Prozorova GF, Pozdnyakov AS, Kuznetsova NP, Korzhova SA, Emel’yanov AI, Ermakova TG, Fadeeva TV, Sosedova LM

International Journal of Nanomedicine 2014, 9:1883-1889

Published Date: 16 April 2014

Methacrylic-based nanogels for the pH-sensitive delivery of 5-Fluorouracil in the colon

Ashwanikumar N, Kumar NA, Nair SA, Kumar GS

International Journal of Nanomedicine 2012, 7:5769-5779

Published Date: 15 November 2012

Cross-linked acrylic hydrogel for the controlled delivery of hydrophobic drugs in cancer therapy

Deepa G, Thulasidasan AK, Anto RJ, Pillai JJ, Kumar GS

International Journal of Nanomedicine 2012, 7:4077-4088

Published Date: 27 July 2012

Crystallization after intravitreal ganciclovir injection

Pitipol Choopong, Nattaporn Tesavibul, Nattawut Rodanant

Clinical Ophthalmology 2010, 4:709-711

Published Date: 14 July 2010