Limb vascular conductance responses to pharmacological and nonexercise vasodilator stimuli are generally augmented in women compared with men. In the present investigation, we tested the hypothesis that exercise-induced vasodilator responses are also greater in women than men. Sixteen women and 15 men (20-30 yr) with similar fitness and activity levels performed graded quadriceps exercise (supine, single-leg knee extensions, 40 contractions/min) to maximal exertion. Active limb hemodynamics (left common femoral artery diameter and volumetric blood flow), heart rate (ECG), and beat-to-beat mean arterial blood pressure (MAP; radial artery tonometry) were measured during each 3-min workload (4.8 and 8 W/stage for women and men, respectively). The hyperemic response to exercise (slope of femoral blood flow vs. workload) was greater (P < 0.01) in women as was femoral blood flow at workloads >15 W. The leg vasodilatory response to exercise (slope of calculated femoral vascular conductance vs. absolute workload) was also greater in women than in men (P < 0.01) because of the sex difference in hyperemia and the women's lower MAP (∼10-15 mmHg) at all workloads (P < 0.05). The femoral artery dilated to a significantly greater extent in the women (∼0.5 mm) than in the men (∼0.1 mm) across all submaximal workloads. At maximal exertion, femoral vascular conductance was lower in the men (men, 18.0 ± 0.6 ml·min-1·mmHg-1; women, 22.6 ± 1.4 ml·min-1·mmHg-1; P < 0.01). Collectively, these findings suggest that the vasodilatory response to dynamic leg exercise is greater in young women vs. men.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physiology (medical)