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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2014 Mar 1;306(5):H755-63. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00314.2013. Epub 2013 Dec 20.

Fine temporal structure of cardiorespiratory synchronization.

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Department of Mathematical Sciences and Center for Mathematical Biosciences, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana; and.


Cardiac and respiratory rhythms are known to exhibit a modest degree of phase synchronization, which is affected by age, diseases, and other factors. We study the fine temporal structure of this synchrony in healthy young, healthy elderly, and elderly subjects with coronary artery disease. We employ novel time-series analysis to explore how phases of oscillations go in and out of the phase-locked state at each cycle of oscillations. For the first time we show that cardiorespiratory system is engaged in weakly synchronized dynamics with a very specific temporal pattern of synchrony: the oscillations go out of synchrony frequently, but return to the synchronous state very quickly (usually within just 1 cycle of oscillations). Properties of synchrony depended on the age and disease status. Healthy subjects exhibited more synchrony at the higher (1:4) frequency-locking ratio between respiratory and cardiac rhythms, whereas subjects with coronary artery disease exhibited relatively more 1:2 synchrony. However, multiple short desynchronization episodes prevailed regardless of the age and disease status. The same average synchrony level could be alternatively achieved with few long desynchronizations, but this was not observed in the data. This implies functional importance of short desynchronization dynamics. These dynamics suggest that a synchronous state is easy to create if needed but is also easy to break. Short desynchronization dynamics may facilitate the mutual coordination of cardiac and respiratory rhythms by creating intermittent synchronous episodes. It may be an efficient background dynamics to promote adaptation of cardiorespiratory coordination to various external and internal factors.


cardiorespiratory interaction; cardioventilatory coupling; phase locking; synchronization

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