Space is not easy for humans. Some aspects can be avoided – the vacuum, of course, and the cold, as well as some radiation. Astronaut Bone density may also be lost, thanks for the lack of gravity. NASA has even created a fun abbreviation for the issues: peak, which stands for space radiation, isolation and confinement, distance from Earth, gravitational fields and hostile and closed environments.
New research raises concerns by explaining how living in space destroys your blood. Or rather, something about space – and we don’t know yet – causes the human body to perform hemolysis at a higher rate than back on Earth.
This phenomenon, called space anemia, has been well studied. It is part of a set of problems that astronauts face when they return to terra firma, which Guy Trudell—one of the paper’s authors and an expert in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Ottawa Hospital—joined. ,[W]When astronauts return from space, they are like the patients we recruit into rehab,” he told Ars.
Space anemia was seen as an adaptation to move fluids in the upper bodies of astronauts when they first arrived in space. They rapidly lose 10 percent of the fluid in their blood vessels, and it was expected that their bodies destroyed matching 10 percent of the red blood cells to bring things back into balance. People also suspected that things were back to normal after 10 days. However, Trudel and his team found that hemolysis was the primary response to being in space. “Our results were a bit surprising,” he said.
In space, no one can hear you breathing in the can
To study space anemia, Trudell worked with 14 astronauts over a six-month stint on the International Space Station. Astronauts brought special canisters and placed them at four set intervals: five days, 12 days, three months, and six months just before heading home. Then, with their primary mission, they brought the canisters back to Earth, breath and all.
Back in the lab, the researchers observed the astronauts’ breath using a high-resolution gas chromatograph, which measures the amount of carbon monoxide after different times in space. According to Trudel, each time a red blood cell is hemolyzed in the body, carbon monoxide is produced. This is not a true relationship, as carbon monoxide can be produced as a result of other physiological processes, such as certain muscle and liver functions. However, Trudel notes that an estimated 85 percent of the carbon monoxide produced by humans comes from hemolysis.
The team’s results showed that the bodies of astronauts in space destroyed about three million red blood cells every second. This is 54 percent higher than the human body on Earth, where the rate is 2 million per second.
In space, the human body loses fluid, so even though an astronaut’s body ends up with fewer red blood cells, the concentration remains at an acceptable level. But when a human returns to Earth, their body loses fluids to cope with the increase in gravity, and space anemia begins. “You need more fluid in your blood vessels, and that will dilate your red blood cells,” he said.
After the astronauts returned from their trip, five of the 13 who had blood on landing were still medically anemic. After three or four months, their red blood cell count continued to rise. However, Trudel’s team performed the same test a year later and found that red blood cell destruction was still 30 percent higher in astronauts. According to the researcher, the longer the astronauts stay in space, the longer the space will be anemia will afflict them on solid ground.