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Nic Shea, MA, CSCS – PhD Candidate, Georgia Institute of Technology

Gyumin Kang – PhD Student, Georgia Institute of Technology

Michael Jones – Research Scientist, Georgia Institute of Technology

Mindy Millard-Stafford – Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology


Sweat rate and electrolyte concentration can widely vary across individuals; thus, these measures may inform practitioners regarding nutritional requirements and acclimatization status of athletes.  PURPOSE: To determine the impact of using different methods for sweat acquisition (by region and modality) on sweat electrolyte concentration. METHODS: Thirteen physically-active males (age: 22.4 ± 3.5, height 178.0 ± 6.1 cm, body mass: 69.9 ± 6.6 kg) participated after a standardized dinner and an overnight fast.  Sweat was acquired via Tegaderm absorbent patch on the left scapula (SCAP-Patch), left forearm (ARM-Patch), and Opsite dressing/parafilm pouch (Brisson method) on the right scapula (SCAP-Pouch) after ~1 h of exercise in the heat (38oC, 30% RH). Sweat was obtained from the beginning of exercise until patches were visibly saturated and pouch contained sufficient sample volume. Sweat was analyzed for sodium [Na+] and potassium [K+] via LAQUAtwin Na-11 and LAQUAtwin K-11. RESULTS: There was a significant effect for sweat acquisition method on Na+ (P=0.002) and K+ (P< 0.001).  CAP-Pouch had higher [Na+] by 16.9% compared to SCAP-Patch (83.1 ± 25.3 > 71.0 ± 18.2 mmol/L; P=0.010); however, this regional measure was highly correlated (r=0.861; P< 0.001) despite a different acquisition technique.  A similar finding was observed for [K+].  SCAP-Pouch had higher [K+] by 18.4% compared to SCAP-Patch (4.5 ± 0.6 > 3.8 ± 0.7 mmol/L; P=0.009) but was significantly correlated (r=0.815; P=0.001). Sodium differences across regions were not different for SCAP-Patch and ARM-Patch (71.0 ± 18.3 vs. 61.9 ± 21.6 mmol/L; P=0.084), but were highly correlated (r=0.795, P=0.001).  Regional differences were only observed for [K+].  Ard greater [K+] compared to SCAP-Patch 5.4 ± 1.2 > 3.8 ± 0.7 mmol/L; P=0.002) but was significantly correlated (r=0.734, P=0.024). CONCLUSIONS: Sweat electrolyte concentration may differ both by region and the acquisition method used in sample collection. The use of absorbent patches resulted in consistently lower electrolyte values for both [Na+]and [K+] compared to a custom-made pouch in the same region (i.e., scapula).  PRACTICAL APPLICATION:  Regional sweat collections within occlusive coverings may result in higher values compared to whole body sweat. However, despite potential differences by region and sample collection, the high correlation among methods indicates a benefit to correctly identify individuals who are at risk for excess sodium loss using these field techniques.


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