A Hypoxic Environment Attenuates Exercise-Induced Procoagulant Changes Due to Decreased Platelet Activation

Cécile H Kicken*, Lisa N van der Vorm, Suzanne Zwaveling, Evi Schoenmaker, Jasper A Remijn, Dana Huskens, Bas de Laat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction  Although physical exercise is protective against cardiovascular disease, it can also provoke sudden cardiac death (exercise paradox). Epidemiological studies suggest that systemic hypoxia at high altitude is a risk factor for venous thromboembolism. Forthcoming, this study investigated the effect of repeated exercise at high altitude on blood coagulation, platelet function, and fibrinolysis. Methods  Six trained male volunteers were recruited. Participants ascended from sea level to 3,375 m altitude. They performed four exercise tests at 65 to 80% of their heart-rate reserve during 2 hours: one time at sea level and three times on consecutive days at 3,375 m altitude. Thrombin generation (TG) was measured in whole blood (WB) and platelet-rich and platelet-poor plasma. Coagulation factor levels were measured. Platelet activation was measured as αIIbβ3 activation and P-selectin expression. Fibrinolysis was studied using a clot-lysis assay. Results  Normoxic exercise increased plasma peak TG through increased factor VIII (FVIII), and increased von Willebrand factor (VWF) and active VWF levels. Platelet granule release potential was slightly decreased. After repetitive hypoxic exercise, the increase in (active) VWF tapered, and there was no more distinct exercise-related increase in peak. Platelet aggregation potential and platelet-dependent TG decreased at high altitude. There were no effects on fibrinolysis upon exercise and/or hypoxia. Conclusion  Strenuous exercise induces a procoagulant state that is mediated by the endothelium, by increasing VWF and secondarily raising FVIII levels. After repetitive exercise, the amplitude of the endothelial response to exercise diminishes. A hypoxic environment appears to further attenuate the procoagulant changes by decreasing platelet activation and platelet-dependent TG.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e216-e226
JournalTH open : companion journal to thrombosis and haemostasis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

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