Effects of Age and Hypertension on Autonomic Nervous Regulation During Passive Head-Up Tilt

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Abstract

To study the effects of age and hypertension on autonomic nervous function with passive postural change, we examined 31 normotensive subjects (25 to 85 years old) and 31 hypertensive patients (21 to 71 years old) without any cardiac disease, diabetes mellitus, or neurological disorders. Subjects were passively placed in a 60° head-up tilting position after 15 minutes in the supine position. Autonomic nervous function was evaluated by frequency domain analysis of heart rate with the autoregressive method. Using low-frequency (0.1 Hz) and high-frequency (0.25 Hz) peaks, the ratio of low- to highfrequency power (L/H) was calculated as an index of sympathetic activity and the ratio of high to total power (%HF) as that of parasympathetic activity. With the patient in the supine position, total power spectral density declined logarithmically with age in normotensive subjects and hypertensive patients, but %HF and L/H showed no changes. In response to passive tilting, L/H was increased and %HF was decreased in the normotensive subjects, and these responses declined with age logarithmically. In contrast, hypertensive patients exhibited less autonomic response to postural change regardless of age. These results suggest that autonomic neural response to tilt is decreased with age; however, attenuation of the response by hypertension is not associated with an increase in age.

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