The effect of age and mitigation strategies during hot water immersion on orthostatic intolerance and thermal stress

Charles J. Steward, Campbell Menzies, Neil D. Clarke, Amy E. Harwood, Mathew Hill, Christopher J.A. Pugh, C. Douglas Thake, Tom Cullen*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (SciVal)


    New Findings: What is the central question of this study? The aim was to characterize adverse responses to whole-body hot water immersion and to investigate practical strategies to mitigate these effects. What is the main finding and its importance? Whole-body hot water immersion induced transient orthostatic hypotension and impaired postural control, which recovered to baseline within 10 min. Hot water immersion was well tolerated by middle-aged adults, but younger adults suffered from a greater frequency and severity of dizziness. Cooling the face with a fan or not immersing the arms can mitigate some of these adverse responses in younger adults. Abstract: Hot water immersion improves cardiovascular health and sporting performance, yet its adverse responses are understudied. Thirteen young and 17 middle-aged adults (n = 30) were exposed to 2 × 30 min bouts of whole-body 39°C water immersion. Young adults also completed cooling mitigation strategies in a randomized cross-over design. Orthostatic intolerance and selected physiological, perceptual, postural and cognitive responses were assessed. Orthostatic hypotension occurred in 94% of middle-aged adults and 77% of young adults. Young adults exhibited greater dizziness upon standing (young subjects, 3 out of 10 arbitrary units (AU) vs. middle-aged subjects, 2 out of 10 AU), with four terminating the protocol early owing to dizziness or discomfort. Despite middle-aged adults being largely asymptomatic, both age groups had transient impairments in postural sway after immersion (P 
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)554-567
    Number of pages14
    JournalExperimental Physiology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 1 Apr 2023


    • heat
    • orthostasis
    • safety


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