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A model-based analysis of autonomic nervous function in response to the Valsalva maneuver

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The Valsalva maneuver (VM) is a diagnostic protocol examining sympathetic and parasympathetic activity in patients with autonomic dysfunction (AD) impacting cardiovascular control. Because direct measurement of these signals is costly and invasive, AD is typically assessed indirectly by analyzing heart rate and blood pressure response patterns. This study introduces a mathematical model that can predict sympathetic and parasympathetic dynamics. Our model-based analysis includes two control mechanisms: respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) and the baroreceptor reflex (baroreflex). The RSA submodel integrates an electrocardiogram-derived respiratory signal with intrathoracic pressure, and the baroreflex submodel differentiates aortic and carotid baroreceptor regions. Patient-specific afferent and efferent signals are determined for 34 control subjects and 5 AD patients, estimating parameters fitting the model output to heart rate data. Results show that inclusion of RSA and distinguishing aortic/carotid regions are necessary to model the heart rate response to the VM. Comparing control subjects to patients shows that RSA and baroreflex responses are significantly diminished. This study compares estimated parameter values from the model-based predictions to indices used in clinical practice. Three indices are computed to determine adrenergic function from the slope of the systolic blood pressure in phase II [α (a new index)], the baroreceptor sensitivity (β), and the Valsalva ratio (γ). Results show that these indices can distinguish between normal and abnormal states, but model-based analysis is needed to differentiate pathological signals. In summary, the model simulates various VM responses and, by combining indices and model predictions, we study the pathologies for 5 AD patients.NEW & NOTEWORTHY We introduce a patient-specific model analyzing heart rate and blood pressure during a Valsalva maneuver (VM). The model predicts autonomic function incorporating the baroreflex and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) control mechanisms. We introduce a novel index (α) characterizing sympathetic activity, which can distinguish control and abnormal patients. However, we assert that modeling and parameter estimation are necessary to explain pathologies. Finally, we show that aortic baroreceptors contribute significantly to the VM and RSA affects early VM.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Volume127
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1386-1402
Number of pages17
ISSN0161-7567
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

ID: 58897029