Gravitational haemodynamics and oedema prevention in the giraffe

Because it is so tall, the giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis, provides an important animal model for investigating adaptive mechanisms to orthostatic (gravitational) pressure changes. Previous physiological studies of the giraffe have concentrated on arterial blood pressures in the heart and neck. Briefly, these investigations revealed that arterial pressure near the giraffe heart is about twice that in humans, to provide more normal blood pressure and perfusion to the brain. Another important question is that of how giraffes avoid pooling of blood and tissue fluid (oedema) in dependent tissues of their extremities. As monitored by radiotelemetry, the blood and tissue fluid pressures that govern transcapillary exchange vary greatly with exercise. These pressures, combined with a tight skin layer, move fluid upward against gravity. Other mechanisms that prevent oedema include precapillary vasoconstriction and low permeability of capillaries to plasma proteins.

Last Updated
January 26, 2021
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