Heart rate variability and baroreflex sensitivity in bilateral lung transplant recipients
The effects of lung afferents denervation on cardiovascular regulation can be assessed on bilateral lung transplantation patients. The high-frequency component of heart rate variability is known to be synchronous with breathing frequency. Then, if heart beat is neurally modulated by breathing frequency, we may expect disappearance of high frequency of heart rate variability in bilateral lung transplantation patients. On 11 patients and 11 matching healthy controls, we measured R-R interval (electrocardiography), blood pressure (Portapres®) and breathing frequency (ultrasonic device) in supine rest, during 10-min free breathing, 10-min cadenced breathing (0·25 Hz) and 5-min handgrip. We analysed heart rate variability and spontaneous variability of arterial blood pressure, by power spectral analysis, and baroreflex sensitivity, by the sequence method. Concerning heart rate variability, with respect to controls, transplant recipients had lower total power and lower low- and high-frequency power. The low-frequency/high-frequency ratio was higher. Concerning systolic, diastolic and mean arterial pressure variability, transplant recipients had lower total power (only for cadenced breathing), low frequency and low-frequency/high-frequency ratio during free and cadenced breathing. Baroreflex sensitivity was decreased. Denervated lungs induced strong heart rate variability reduction. The higher low-frequency/high-frequency ratio suggested that the total power drop was mostly due to high frequency. These results support the hypothesis that neural modulation from lung afferents contributes to the high frequency of heart rate variability.