Introduction: External pneumatic compression (EPC) is being employed for a widening range of clinical and non-clinical populations. However, EPC devices vary markedly in treatment pressures, duty cycles and application sites, and the acute effects of whole limb, lower pressure EPC on peripheral vascular function have not been determined.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the acute effects of a single bout of peristaltic pulse EPC on peripheral conduit and resistance artery function.
Methods: Twenty (n = 20; males = 12 and females = 8) young and apparently healthy subjects (aged 26.1 ± 8.2 years) participated in this study. A sequential EPC device with five inflation zones arranged linearly and inflating distal to proximal along the lower limbs was employed with target inflation pressures of 70 mmHg for 1 h. Flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of the brachial and popliteal arteries was evaluated with ultrasound before and after EPC. Venous occlusion plethysmography was employed to evaluate limb blood flow at rest and during reactive hyperemia (RH) in the forearm (FBF) and calf (CBF) before and after EPC.
Results: Peak RH CBF was increased by 9 % after EPC (P < 0.05), whereas peak RH FBF (-10 %) did not change significantly (P > 0.25). Normalized popliteal artery FMD post-EPC (2.24 ± 1.41) was significantly higher than pre-EPC (1.36 ± 0.67, P = 0.015) and post-sham (1.58 ± 0.86, P = 0.032) values. Similarly, normalized brachial artery FMD post-EPC (1.47 ± 0.32) was significantly higher than pre-EPC (1.11 ± 0.41, P = 0.004) and post-sham (0.99 ± 0.27, P = 0.026) values.
Conclusion: Acutely, whole limb, lower pressure EPC improves conduit artery endothelial function systemically, but only improves RH blood flow locally (i.e., compressed limbs).