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Stroke. 1995 Aug;26(8):1386-92.

Effects of the valsalva maneuver on cerebral circulation in healthy adults. A transcranial Doppler Study.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle 98104, USA.



Knowledge is limited about the effects of the Valsalva maneuver on cerebral circulation because of the poor temporal resolution of traditional cerebral blood flow measurements. The purpose of this study was to investigate changes in cerebral blood flow during the Valsalva maneuver and to explore its potential use for the evaluation of cerebral autoregulation.


Using transcranial Doppler ultrasonography, we simultaneously recorded systemic arterial blood pressure in the radial artery and flow velocities in both middle cerebral arteries in 10 healthy adults during the Valsalva maneuver. Gosling's pulsatility index was calculated for all phases of the Valsalva maneuver. Autoregulatory capacities were estimated from the change in cerebrovascular resistance (flow velocity in relationship to blood pressure) during phase II and changes in the velocity-pressure relationship in phase IV relative to phase I.


The characteristic changes in blood pressure (phases I to IV) were seen in all subjects, accompanying distinct changes in cerebral blood flow velocity. The relative changes in mean velocity during phases II and IV were significantly greater than those in mean blood pressure. Compared with the baseline value, velocity decreased by 35% in phase IIa, then rose by 56.5% in phase IV (corresponding changes in blood pressure were -10.2% and +29.8%, respectively). During phase II, the pulsatility and cerebrovascular resistance decreased by 19.9%. The increase in cerebral blood flow velocity in phase IV was significantly higher than in phase I (P < .0004), and there was no corresponding significant difference in blood pressure.


These results demonstrated that in healthy humans the Valsalva maneuver causes characteristic changes in systemic blood pressure as well as in flow velocity in the middle cerebral artery, reflecting the sympathetic and cerebral autoregulatory responses, respectively. Analysis of these changes may provide an estimate of autoregulatory capacity.

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