Prolonged sitting leg vasculopathy: contributing factors and clinical implications

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2017 Oct 1;313(4):H722-H728. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00326.2017. Epub 2017 Jul 21.

Abstract

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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Leg / blood supply*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Shear Strength
  • Vascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Vascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Vascular Diseases / therapy