Inhalational conscious sedation with nitrous oxide enhances the cardiac parasympathetic component of heart rate variability

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ObjectiveWe investigated the effects of conscious sedation by 30% nitrous oxide inhalation on the cardiac autonomic nervous system in the absence or presence of music listening.Study designThe power spectral analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) and cardiovascular parameters were measured in 26 healthy volunteers, who were divided into the control and N2O groups.ResultsNitrous oxide inhalation attenuated the increase in relative low frequency (LF) power in the control group, but relative high frequency (HF) power remained constant compared to a decreased value in the control group. Nitrous oxide inhibited the increase in the LF/HF ratio. These autonomic balance shifts were observed without hemodynamic changes. Additional music during sedation did not alter HRV variables.ConclusionsInhalational sedation with nitrous oxide shifted cardiac sympathetic-parasympathetic balance toward a parasympathetic dominance via the suppression of sympathetic activity. Music listening during sedation did not provide further relaxing effects.

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