Effect of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation on Coronary Blood Flow

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Abstract

Background

Although neurostimulation has been shown to be of benefit in angina pectoris, the exact mechanism of its action is not clear. This study was performed to examine the effect of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation on coronary blood flow.

Methods and Results

The effect of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation was studied in 34 syndrome X patients (group 1), 15 coronary artery disease patients (group 2), and 16 heart transplant patients (group 3). Coronary blood flow velocity (CBFV) in the left coronary system was measured at rest and after a 5-minute stimulation period with a Judkins Doppler. There was a significant increase in the resting CBFV in group 1 (from 6.8±4.1 to 10.5±5.7 cm/s, P < .001) and group 2 (from 6.8±4.1 to 10.5±5.7 cm/s, P < .001). However, there was no significant change in the resting CBFV in group 3. There were no significant changes in the coronary arterial diameters as a result of neurostimulation. There was a significant decrease in the epinephrine levels in group 1 (from 79.6±17.8 to 58.5±17.5 ng/L, P = .01) and group 2 (from 102.2±27.2 to 64.1 ± 19.1 ng/L, P = .01).

Conclusions

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation can increase resting coronary blood flow velocity. The findings suggest that the site of action is at the microcirculatory level and that the effects may be mediated by neural mechanisms.

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