Atherosclerotic peripheral artery disease primarily manifests in the medium- to large-sized conduit arteries of the lower extremities. However, the factors underlying this increased vulnerability of leg macrovasculature to disease are largely unidentified. On the basis of recent studies, we propose that excessive time spent in the sitting position and the ensuing reduction in leg blood flow-induced shear stress cause endothelial cell dysfunction, a key predisposing factor to peripheral artery disease. In particular, this review summarizes the findings from laboratory-based sitting studies revealing acute leg vascular dysfunction with prolonged sitting in young healthy subjects, discusses the primary physiological mechanisms and the potential long-term implications of such leg vasculopathy with repeated exposure to prolonged sitting, as well as identifies strategies that may be effective at evading it.
Keywords: blood flow; endothelial function; physical inactivity; sedentarism; shear stress.
Copyright © 2017 the American Physiological Society.