Diurnal Variation in the Mechanical and Neural Components of the Baroreflex
Diminished baroreflex sensitivity in the morning negatively influences morning coronary blood flow and blood pressure control in hypertensive patients. Our aim was to determine the contribution of the mechanical and neural components of the cardiac baroreflex to diurnal variation in blood pressure control. In 12 healthy participants, we used the modified Oxford method to quantify baroreflex sensitivity for rising (Gup) and falling (Gdown) pressures in the morning (7:00 am) and afternoon (4:00 pm). Beat-to-beat blood pressure, R-R intervals, and carotid artery diameter measurements were recorded. Integrated sensitivity was determined by plotting R-R intervals against systolic blood pressure. The mechanical component was carotid artery diameter plotted against systolic blood pressure, and the neural component was R-R intervals plotted against carotid artery diameter. Linear mixed models were used to compare the integrated, mechanical, and neural sensitivities between morning and afternoon. We found significant diurnal variation in integrated sensitivity, with an attenuated response in the morning (Gup=13.0±0.6; Gdown=6.3±0.4 ms/mm Hg) when compared with the afternoon (Gup=15.1±0.6; Gdown=12.6±0.4 ms/mm Hg). For rising pressures, the diminished integrated sensitivity in the morning was caused by a reduction in mechanical sensitivity, whereas for falling pressures it was caused by a reduction in neural sensitivity. Our findings explicate the mechanisms underlying diurnal variation in baroreflex function. Pharmacological and lifestyle interventions targeted specifically at the diminished component of the cardiac baroreflex in the morning may lead to better management of hypertension.
- Received February 12, 2011.
- Revision received March 14, 2011.
- Accepted May 6, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.