Cardiovascular and thermal consequences of protective clothing: a comparison of clothed and unclothed states.

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Journal Article
Ergonomics, 2004, 47 (10), pp. 1073 - 1086
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We have undertaken a laboratory-based examination of the cardiovascular and thermal impact of wearing thermal (heat) protective clothing during fatiguing exercise in the heat. Seven males completed semi-recumbent, intermittent cycling (39.6 degrees C, 45% relative humidity) wearing either protective clothing or shorts (control). Mean core and skin temperatures, cardiac frequency (f(c)), stroke volume (Q), cardiac output (Q), arterial pressure, forearm blood flow (Q(f)), plasma volume change, and sweat rates were measured. In the clothed trials, subjects experienced significantly shorter times to fatigue (52.5 vs. 58.9 min), at lower peak work rates (204.3 vs. 277.4 W), and with higher core (37.9 degrees vs. 37.5 degrees C) and mean skin temperatures (37.3 degrees vs. 36.9 degrees C). There was a significant interaction between time and clothing on f(c), such that, over time, the clothing effect became more powerful. Clothing had a significant main affect on Q, but not Q, indicating the higher Q was chronotropically driven. Despite a greater sweat loss when clothed (923.0 vs. 547.1 g.m(-2) x h(-1); P<0.05), Q(f) and plasma volume change remained equivalent. Protective clothing reduced exercise tolerance, but did not affect overall cardiovascular function, at the point of volitional fatigue. It was concluded that, during moderately heavy, semi-recumbent exercise under hot, dry conditions, the strain on the unclothed body was already high, such that the additional stress imparted by the clothing ensemble represented a negligible, further impact upon cardiovascular stability.
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