BACKGROUND: The benefits of compression legwear (CL) have been demonstrated in the improvement of vascular function and venous return of the lower extremities, but their effect on autonomic nervous system (ANS) activities and human stress response remain controversial. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the possible effects of CLs on ANS activities and in inducing stress on the human body. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Resting salivary cortisol and urinary catecholamine (adrenaline and noradrenaline) excretions were examined in 12 healthy women. The effects of different skin pressure levels exerted by CL were studied by conducting a 4-hour prolonged standing and sitting wear trial with intermittent sampling of the aforementioned biochemical parameters. RESULTS: No statistically significant differences in resting salivary cortisol and urinary catecholamines were found between control and different clothing pressure conditions (light, mild, moderate, and strong), although the secretion of salivary cortisol (SSC) showed a significant decrease during the 180 minutes of the testing period that was maintained up to 10 minutes after the CL was removed for the studied pressure conditions. Urinary excretion of adrenaline and noradrenaline decreased with increasing pressure levels and was lower in response to higher clothing pressure when tested in the afternoon. CONCLUSION: Constant pressure exerted by CL did not cause any stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. The prolonged wearing of CL while standing or sitting did not induce any stress on the human body, suggesting that CL can be safely used in the treatment of patients with venous disorders of the lower extremities. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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