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Am J Physiol. 1996 Jun;270(6 Pt 2):H2081-7.

Effects of constant cardiac autonomic nerve stimulation on heart rate variability.

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Section of Cardiology, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157, USA.


Heart rate variability is used to assess cardiac autonomic tone. We bought to determine the relationship of graded direct stimulation of efferent cardiac autonomic nerves on heart rate variability in an anesthetized canine model. Time and frequency domain variables were measured at denervated baseline and during electrical stimulation of the vagi and ansae subclaviae over a wide range of frequencies. Vagal and ansae stimuli produced significant changes in heart rate that correlated with the intensity of stimulation. Vagal stimulation resulted in small increases in time domain indexes of heart rate variability and in the power spectrum from 0.04 to 0.40 Hz, but with no correlation between stimulus intensity and changes in these indexes. By contrast, ansae stimulation had no effect on time or frequency domain measures. In the absence of central modulation of autonomic outflow, indexes of heart rate variability reflect the presence of vagal input but do not correlate with the level of vagal tone and are unaffected by changes in mean sympathetic tone.

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