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Sympatho-vagal interaction in the recovery phase of exercise

by Mikko P. Tulppo, Antti M. Kiviniemi, Arto J. Hautala, Mika Kallio, Tapio Seppänen, Suvi Tiinanen, Timo H. Mäkikallio, Heikki V. Huikuri
Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging ()

Abstract

Reciprocal autonomic regulation occurs during incremental exercise. We hypothesized that sympatho-vagal interplay may become altered after exercise because of the differences in recovery patterns of autonomic arms. The cardiac vagal activity was assessed by measurement of beat-to-beat R-R interval oscillations using a Poincaré plot method (SD1), and muscle sympathetic nervous activity (MSNA) was measured from peroneus nerve by a microneurography technique during and after exercise in 16 healthy subjects. Autonomic regulation was compared between the rest and after exercise (3·5 ± 1·0 min after exercise) at equal heart rates (HR). SD1 was at the equal level at the recovery phase (40 ± 21 ms) compared to the resting condition (38 ± 16 ms, P = ns) at comparable HR (57 ± 10 for both). MSNA was higher at the recovery phase (40 ± 19 burst per 100 heartbeats) than at rest (25 ± 13 burst per 100 heartbeats, P<0·0001). The difference of MSNA activity between rest and late recovery phase had a strong positive correlation with the difference in SD1 (r = 0·78, P<0·001) at equal HRs. Subjects who have a higher sympathetic activity in the recovery phase of exercise have a more augmented cardiac vagal activity resulting in an accentuated sympatho-vagal outflow. The altered autonomic interaction observed here may partly explain the clustering of various cardiovascular events to the recovery phase of exercise.

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