Muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) in humans is regulated in part by arterial baroreceptors. However, although mental stress increases blood pressure, it also increases MSNA. This suggests that baroreceptor control of MSNA is altered during mental stress. In nine healthy men (age range, 20-26 years), we recorded heart rate, blood pressure, and efferent MSNA (peroneal nerve, microneurography) during a 4-minute mental arithmetic task performed both before and during infusion of phenylephrine sufficient to markedly suppress resting MSNA. Before phenylephrine, mental stress significantly increased mean blood pressure (p less than 0.01), heart rate (p less than 0.01), and MSNA (from 18.5 +/- 3.2 to 24.8 +/- 3.5 bursts/min, p less than 0.001). Phenylephrine infusion increased resting mean blood pressure (from 84.0 +/- 2.6 to 90.0 +/- 2.7 mm Hg, p less than 0.01) and decreased resting heart rate (from 65.6 +/- 1.7 to 55.6 +/- 2.0 beats/min, p less than 0.01). Resting MSNA decreased dramatically during phenylephrine (from 18.5 +/- 3.2 to 3.3 +/- 1.3 bursts/min, p less than 0.01). During phenylephrine, mental stress again significantly (p less than 0.01) increased mean blood pressure, heart rate, and MSNA (from 3.1 +/- 1.4 to 10.9 +/- 1.8 bursts/min). The magnitude of stress-induced increases in MSNA and heart rate were comparable before and during phenylephrine infusion despite the greater elevation in diastolic pressure during stress plus phenylephrine. The present study demonstrates that mental stress produces sympathoexcitatory and pressor responses even during sustained stimulation of arterial baroreceptors.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association