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BMC Geriatr. 2019 Jan 25;19(1):23. doi: 10.1186/s12877-019-1035-0.

Autonomic cardiovascular control in older patients with acute infection and delirium: a pilot study of orthostatic stress responses.

Author information

1
Department of Geriatric Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway. bjorn.erik@neerland.net.
2
Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway. bjorn.erik@neerland.net.
3
Oslo Delirium Research Group, Department of Geriatric Medicine, University of Oslo, P.O.BOX 4956, Nydalen, N-0424, Oslo, Norway. bjorn.erik@neerland.net.
4
Department of Geriatric Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway. t.b.wyller@medisin.uio.no.
5
Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway. t.b.wyller@medisin.uio.no.
6
Oslo Delirium Research Group, Department of Geriatric Medicine, University of Oslo, P.O.BOX 4956, Nydalen, N-0424, Oslo, Norway. t.b.wyller@medisin.uio.no.
7
Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
8
Department of Pediatrics, Akershus University Hospital, Lørenskog, Norway.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Alterations in autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity might be involved in the pathophysiology of delirium. The aim was to explore autonomic cardiovascular control in older patients with and without delirium.

METHODS:

Fourteen patients (five with delirium) acutely admitted to the geriatric ward with an infection were enrolled in the study. Patients with atrial fibrillation, a pacemaker, or on treatment with beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers or acetylcholinesterase inhibitors were not eligible. Continuous, non-invasive hemodynamic variables were measured during supine rest (5 min) and head-up tilt (HUT) to 15 degrees (10 min). Heart rate (HR), blood pressure (BP) and stroke volume (SV) were recorded beat-to-beat. Cardiac output (CO), total peripheral resistance (TPR), end-diastolic volume (EDV) and heart rate variability (HRV) values were calculated.

RESULTS:

Median age was 86 years. HR, BP, SV, CO, TPR and EDV were similar across the two groups at rest, but there was a trend towards a greater increase in systolic BP and HR during HUT in the delirium group. At rest, all HRV indices were higher in the delirium group, but the differences were not statistically significant. During HUT, the delirium group had higher power spectral density (PSD) (representing total variability) (p = 0.06) and a lower low frequency (LF)/high frequency (HF)-ratio (an index of sympathovagal balance) than the control group (p = 0.06). Also, delirious patients had a significantly greater reduction in standard deviation of RR-intervals (SDNN) (representing total variability) from baseline than controls (p = 0.01) during HUT.

CONCLUSIONS:

This explorative pilot study on autonomic cardiovascular control in delirium suggests that there may be differences in HRV that should be further investigated in larger samples.

KEYWORDS:

Autonomic function; Delirium; Head-up tilt; Heart rate variability

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