Study finds astronauts' hearts become more spherical in space

New findings from a study of 12 astronauts show the heart becomes more spherical when exposed to long periods of microgravity in space, a change that could lead to cardiac problems, according to research to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session.

With implications for an eventual manned mission to Mars, the findings represent an important step toward understanding how a spaceflight of 18 months or more could affect astronauts’ heart health.

“The heart doesn’t work as hard in space, which can cause a loss of muscle mass,” said James Thomas, M.D., Moore Chair of Cardiovascular Imaging and Lead Scientist for Ultrasound at NASA, and senior author of the study. “That can have serious consequences after the return to…