Author(s): Katona PG, McLean M, Dighton DH, Guz A
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Abstract A simple model to characterize sympathetic and parasympathetic effects on heart rate (R) was tested during rest in 10 nonathletes and 8 world-class oarsmen. The model states that R = mnR0, where R0 is the intrinsic cardiac rate, and m and n depend only on sympathetic and parasympathetic activity, respectively. The multipliers, m and n, were determined by dual pharmacological blockade in two sessions under similar conditions, but in one session propranolol and in the other atropine was given first. In agreement with the model, when corrections were made for atropine-induced blood pressure changes, m and n did not depend on which blocking agent was administered first. In athletes the control heart rate [55 +/- 3.3 (SD) beats/min] and R0 (81 +/- 8.3 beats/min) were lower than in nonathletes (62 +/- 6.0, P less than 0.01 and 102 +/- 11, P less than 0.001, respectively). The sympathetic multiplier, m, was similar (1.18 +/- 0.06 vs. 1.20 +/- 0.05, P greater than 0.4) in the two groups, but n, the parasympathetic multiplier, was closer to 1 in the athletes (0.57 +/- 0.03 vs. 0.51 +/- 0.05, P less than 0.01). We conclude that the model is suitable for the quantitative study of sympathetic/parasympathetic heart rate control in humans, and that the lower resting heart rate in oarsmen is solely due to a reduction in intrinsic cardiac rate, and not to an increase in parasympathetic tone.
This article was published in J Appl Physiol Respir Environ Exerc Physiol
and referenced in International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation