Measurements were made on 46 pairs of riveters and matched control subjects before and after a morning's work. Before starting work, the mean resting finger systolic pressure was 112 (SEM 3.3) mm Hg in the riveters, similar to 117 (1.7) in the control subjects. After cooling the middle phalanx to 10 degrees C for five minutes, 16 riveters but only one control subject exhibited digital vasospasm and these numbers were unaltered after a morning's work. A subgroup of riveters whose role was always to provide counter pressure to the rivet gun showed a higher incidence (45%) of cold induced vasospasm than did riveters who invariably held the gun (10%) or rotated between both roles (27%). Plasma levels of three markers of vascular activity, endothelin-1 (ET-1), von Willebrand factor antigen (vWFAg), and angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), were measured in non-smoking riveters and control subjects. Before work, ET-1 concentrations were slightly lower (p < 0.05) in the riveters, but vWFAg concentration and ACE activity were similar in riveters and control subjects. Riveting for a morning did not alter ET-1 concentration or ACE activity but did induce a small increase (p < 0.05) in vWFAg concentration, which may indicate damage to the endothelium. This type of vascular assessment may be helpful in assessing vasospastic complications in workers exposed to vibration.
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