The present study compared the changes in blood viscosity, hydration status, body temperature and heart rate between a group of sickle cell trait (SCT) carriers and a control (Cont) group before and after a soccer game performed in two conditions: one with water offered ad libitum (hydration condition; Hyd) and the other one without water (dehydration condition; Dehyd). Blood viscosity and haematocrit per blood viscosity ratio (HVR; an index of red blood cell oxygen transport effectiveness) were measured before and at the end of each game. Resting blood viscosity was greater in the SCT carriers than in the Cont group. The increase of blood viscosity over baseline at the end of the game in the Cont group was similar in the two conditions. In contrast, the change in blood viscosity occurring in SCT carriers during soccer games was dependant on the experimental condition: (1) in Dehyd condition, blood viscosity rose over baseline; (2) in Hyd condition, blood viscosity decreased below resting level reaching Cont values. The Cont group had higher HVR than SCT carriers at rest. HVR remained unchanged in the Cont group at the end of the games, whatever the experimental condition. Although HVR of SCT carriers decreased below baseline at the end of the game performed in Dehyd condition, it increased over resting level in Hyd condition reaching the values of the Cont group. Our study demonstrated that ad libitum hydration in exercising SCT carriers normalises the blood hyperviscosity.
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