Effect of changes in cardiac autonomic balance on blood pressure regulation in man

Michael L. Smith, Howard M. Graitzer, Donna L. Hudson, Peter B. Raven

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5 Scopus citations


The role of cardiac autonomic balance in fitness-related differences in blood pressure regulation was evaluated by comparing the cardiovascular responses to lower body negative pressure (LBNP) in 10 trained and 10 untrained men. Cardiac autonomic balance was quantified as the ratio of resting heart rate to intrinsic heart rate, and was significantly lower in the trained subjects (0.68 ± 0.03) than the untrained subjects (0.81 ± 0.03) indicating a greater parasympathetic dominance at rest in the trained subjects. Arterial pressure decreased significantly more during LBNP in the trained subjects and was due to lower chronotropic and vasoconstrictor respones in these trained subjects. 'Cardiac autonomic balance' was equilibrated between the groups by partial parasympathetic blockade with atropine sulfate in the trained subjects and partial sympathetic blockade with metoprolol tartrate in the untrained subjects. Equilibration of cardiac autonomic balance eliminated the group differences in blood pressure maintenance, and chronotropic and vasoconstrictor responsiveness during LBNP. It was hypothesized that the elevated tone of parasympathetic control of the heart rate of the trained subjects resulted in an attenuation of blood pressure regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-114
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Autonomic Nervous System
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1988


  • Exercise training
  • Lower body negative pressure
  • Parasympathetic
  • Sympathetic


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