Cold Water Facial Immersion to Reduce Orthostatic Intolerance

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Florida Southern College
During standing, passive effects of gravity result in venous pooling in the lower extremities. In healthy individuals, these effects are largely offset by actions of the baroreflex and subsequent sympathetic induced vasoconstriction. However, in those who experience orthostatic intolerance (OI), this response may be attenuated and lead to reductions in blood pressure (BP) and presyncope. Interestingly, highly trained aerobic athletes may be at risk of developing OI due to training induced reductions in sensitivity of the baroreflex. Interventions are necessary to mitigate symptoms of OI, but not interfere with exercise training in this population. In the literature, cold-water facial immersion is one intervention that may combat this paradox. Specifically, facial immersion in 0°C cold water, or an ice pack applied to the forehead and cheeks has been shown to increase vasoconstriction in the lower extremities, thus preventing large reductions in BP and symptoms of OI. Collectively, exercise professionals may use cold water facial immersion or ice pack application as part of the exercise prescription for highly trained aerobic individuals who experienced OI.
Presented at Fiat Lux Spring 2021.
Baroreflexes, Blood pressure, Vasoconstrictors