Interactions between breathing rate and low-frequency fluctuations in blood pressure and cardiac intervals

H. M. Horsman, K. C. Peebles, Y. C. Tzeng*

*Corresponding author for this work

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    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Evidence derived from spontaneous measures of cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity (BRS) suggests that slow breathing at 6 breaths/min augments BRS. However, increases in BRS associated with slow breathing may simply reflect the frequency-dependent nature of the baroreflex rather than the modulation of baroreflex function by changes in breathing rate per se. To test this hypothesis we employed a crossover study design (η= 14) wherein breathing rate and systolic arterial blood pressure (SAP) oscillation induced via the application of oscillating lower body negative pressure (OLBNP) were independently varied at fixed frequencies. Breathing rate was controlled at 6 or 10 breaths/min with the aid of a metronome, and SAP oscillations were driven at 0.06 Hz and 0.1 Hz using OLBNP. The magnitudes of SAP and R-R interval (cardiac period) oscillations were quantified using power spectral analysis, and the transfer function gain between SAP and R-R interval was used to estimate BRS. Linear mixed-effects models were used to examine the main effects and interactions between breathing rate and OLBNP frequency. There was no statistical interaction between breathing and OLBNP frequency (P = 0.59), indicating that the effect of breathing rate on BRS did not differ according to OLBNP frequency (and vice versa). Additionally, there was no main effect for breathing rate (P = 0.28). However, we observed a significant main effect for OLBNP frequency (P = 0.01) consistent with the frequency-dependent nature of baroreflex. These findings suggest that increases in spectral indices of BRS reflect the frequency dependence of the baroreflex and are not due to slow breathing per se.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)793-798
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015


    • Baroreceptors
    • Baroreflex sensitivity
    • Blood pressure
    • Breathing
    • Heart rate


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