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Circulation. 1998 Aug 11;98(6):547-55.

Mechanisms underlying very-low-frequency RR-interval oscillations in humans.

Author information

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Hunter Holmes McGuire Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, USA. ataylor@mail.hrca.harvard.edu
  • 2Med Coll VA, Richmond

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Survival of post-myocardial infarction patients is related inversely to their levels of very-low-frequency (0.003 to 0.03 Hz) RR-interval variability. The physiological basis for such oscillations is unclear. In our study, we used blocking drugs to evaluate potential contributions of sympathetic and vagal mechanisms and the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system to very-low-frequency RR-interval variability in 10 young healthy subjects.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

We recorded RR intervals and arterial pressures during three separate sessions, with the patient in supine and 40 degree upright tilt positions, during 20-minute frequency (0.25 Hz) and tidal volume-controlled breathing after intravenous injections: saline (control), atenolol (0.2 mg/kg, beta-adrenergic blockade), atropine sulfate (0.04 mg/kg, parasympathetic blockade), atenolol and atropine (complete autonomic blockade), and enalaprilat (0.02 mg/kg, ACE blockade). We integrated fast Fourier transform RR-interval spectral power at very low (0.003 to 0.03 Hz), low (0.05 to 0. 15 Hz), and respiratory (0.2 to 0.3 Hz) frequencies. Beta-adrenergic blockade had no significant effect on very-low- or low-frequency RR-interval power but increased respiratory frequency power 2-fold. ACE blockade had no significant effect on low or respiratory frequency RR-interval power but modestly (approximately 21%) increased very-low-frequency power in the supine (but not upright tilt) position (P<0.05). The most profound effects were exerted by parasympathetic blockade: Atropine, given alone or with atenolol, abolished nearly all RR-interval variability and decreased very-low-frequency variability by 92%.

CONCLUSIONS:

Although very-low-frequency heart period rhythms are influenced by the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, as low and respiratory frequency RR-interval rhythms, they depend primarily on the presence of parasympathetic outflow. Therefore the prognostic value of very-low-frequency heart period oscillations may derive from the fundamental importance of parasympathetic mechanisms in cardiovascular health.

PMID:
9714112
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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