Increased daily sitting time is associated with greater cardiovascular risk, and, on average, women are more sedentary than men. Recent reports have demonstrated that prolonged sitting reduces lower leg microvascular (reactive hyperemia) and macrovascular [flow-mediated dilation (FMD)] vasodilator function. However, these studies have predominately included men, and the effects of sitting in young women are largely unexplored. This becomes important given known sex differences in vascular function. Thus, herein, we assessed popliteal artery reactive hyperemia and FMD before and after a 3-h sitting period in healthy young women (n = 12) and men (n = 8). In addition, resting popliteal artery hemodynamics (duplex Doppler ultrasound) and calf circumference were measured before, during, and after sitting. Resting popliteal artery shear rate was reduced to a similar extent in both groups during the sitting period (women: −48.5 ± 8.4 s−1 and men: −52.9 ± 12.3 s−1, P = 0.45). This was accompanied by comparable increases in calf circumference in men and women (P = 0.37). After the sitting period, popliteal artery FMD was significantly reduced in men (PreSit: 5.5 ± 0.9% and PostSit: 1.6 ± 0.4%, P < 0.001) but not women (PreSit: 4.4 ± 0.6% and PostSit: 3.6 ± 0.6%, P = 0.29). In contrast, both groups demonstrated similar reductions in hyperemic blood flow area under the curve (women: −28,860 ± 5,742 arbitrary units and men: −28,691 ± 9,685 arbitrary units, P = 0.99), indicating impaired microvascular reactivity after sitting. These findings indicate that despite comparable reductions in shear rate during 3 h of uninterrupted sitting, macrovascular function appears protected in some young women but the response was variable, whereas men exhibited more consistent reductions in FMD. In contrast, the leg microvasculature is susceptible to similar sitting-induced impairments in men and women.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY We demonstrate that leg macrovascular function was consistently reduced in young men but not young women after prolonged sitting. In contrast, both men and women exhibited similar reductions in leg microvascular reactivity after sitting. These data demonstrate, for the first time, sex differences in vascular responses to prolonged sitting.
- flow-mediated dilation
- reactive hyperemia
- shear rate
- popliteal artery
- sedentary behavior
- Copyright © 2017 the American Physiological Society
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