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An Alarming Discovery in an Astronaut’s Bloodstream

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Astronauts are more than cosmic travelers.

They´re also research subjects in the careful study of what exactly outer space does to the human body. On the ground, researchers measure vitals, draw blood, swan cheeks, and more. In orbit around the Earth. the astronauts do the work themselves.

Being in microgravity can have strange effects on the body - now it has emerged that it can make people´s blood flow backwards.
The changes to circulation caused two astronauts to develop small blood clots, which could have beeen fatal. Fortunately, though, the man and woman affected came to no harm.

NASA Twin Study experimental design via Garrett-Bakelman et al., Science 364,144(2019)

The blood changes happened in a vessel called the left internal jugular vein, one of two than normally move blood out of the head when we are lying down. When we are upright, they mostly collapse to stop too much blood from draining out of the heat, with our circulation taking a different route through veins with more resistance instead.