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Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 1991 Nov;18(11):735-42.

Effects of respiration on blood pressure and heart rate variability in humans.


1. Non-invasive continuous finger blood pressure (BP) measurement and a spectral technique based on the Fourier transform (FT) were recently combined to quantify short-term fluctuations in haemodynamic variables. 2. Systolic BP (SBP) recording combined low frequency (LF, Mayer waves) plus high frequency (HF, respiratory) oscillations. The presence of HF oscillations of SBP probably reflects fluctuations in cardiac output. Heart rate (HR) also exhibited a combination of low and HF (respiratory) oscillations. The vagus nerve mediates the efferent control of the respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). 3. During controlled breathing in a supine position, a change in SBP is associated with an opposite consequent change in HR. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia could therefore depend on the baroreceptor-HR response to underlying SBP oscillations. 4. The fast regulation of R-R interval by SBP through the baroreceptor-HR reflex may explain why the respiratory variations in the diastolic BP are small.

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