A hot-flush is characterised by feelings of intense heat, profuse elevations in cutaneous vasodilation and sweating, and reduced brain blood flow. Exercise training reduces self-reported hot-flush severity, but underpinning physiological data are lacking. We hypothesised that exercise training attenuates the changes in cutaneous vasodilation, sweat rate and cerebral blood flow during a hot flush. In a preference trial, 18 symptomatic post-menopausal women underwent a passive heat stress to induce hot-flushes at baseline and follow-up. Fourteen participants opted for a 16-week moderate intensity supervised exercise intervention, while 7 participants opted for control. Sweat rate, cutaneous vasodilation, blood pressure, heart rate and middle cerebral artery velocity (MCAv) were measured during the hot-flushes. Data were binned into eight equal segments, each representing 12.5% of hot flush duration. Weekly self-reported frequency and severity of hot flushes were also recorded at baseline and follow-up. Following training, mean hot-flush sweat rate decreased by 0.04 mg·cm2·min−1 at the chest (95% CI: 0.02-0.06, P = 0.01) and by 0.03 mg·cm2·min−1 (0.02-0.05, P = 0.03) at the forearm, compared with negligible changes in control. Training also mediated reductions in cutaneous vasodilation by 9% (6-12) at the chest and by 7% (4-9) at forearm (P≤0.05). Training attenuated hot flush MCAv by 3.4 cm/s (0.7-5.1, P = 0.04) compared with negligible changes in control. Exercise training reduced the self-reported severity of hot-flush by 109 arbitrary units (80-121, P<0.001). These data indicate that exercise training leads to parallel reductions in hot-flush severity and within-flush changes in cutaneous vasodilation, sweating and cerebral blood flow.
Journal of Physiology / Vol. 594, No. 3, pp.657-667