Stimulatory effects of computer-rendered artificial virtual environment on heart rate variability and baroreceptor sensitivity

C. Blackmore, C. Kazzi, F. Shirbani, I. Tan, M. Butlin, A. Avolio, E. Barin

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review

Abstract

Background: Relaxing virtual reality (VR) scenarios have been shown to decrease stress, anxiety, and pain perception. How these psychological impacts affect blood pressure (BP) and autonomic function in healthy individuals has not been explored.
Method: An instructed (auditory) meditation augmented by a virtual environment (VE) was delivered to 16 participants, and compared to seated rest and the VE sequence played in a two-dimensional (2D) format. Blood pressure, heart rate variability (HRV), and baroreceptor sensitivity (BRS) were quantified under each condition. The above were also quantified during both a VE and seated rest following physical (isometric handgrip) or mental (serial sevens subtraction) stress.
Results: Blood pressure, HRV, and BRS were the same under conditions of VE, seated rest, and the VE video on a 2D screen under resting conditions. A VE caused BRS to remain high following hand grip (82 ± 13 ms/mmHg, mean ± standard error), with seated rest showing recovery (56 ± 12 ms/mmHg, p = 0.044). A VE slowed recovery of low frequency (LF) HRV power (66 ± 4 normalised units (n.u.)) following mental stress compared to seated rest (55 ± 5 n.u., p = 0.0060). High-frequency (HF) HRV power during VE (34 ± 4 n.u.) remained low following mental stress compared to seated rest (44 ± 5 n.u., p = 0.014). The resultant LF:HF ratio (2.4 ± 0.5) was higher compared to seated rest (1.6 ± 0.3, p = 0.012) following mental stress.
Conclusion: VE had little effect on BP, HRV and BRS during resting conditions in healthy individuals. However, VE acted as an autonomic stimulus following stress and impeded relaxation. Further studies are required to investigate whether the same effect occurs during a stressful event.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0682
Pages (from-to)S350
Number of pages1
JournalHeart Lung and Circulation
Volume27
Issue numberSupplement 2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018
Event66th Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand Annual Scientific Meeting, the International Society for Heart Research Australasian Section Annual Scientific Meeting and the 12th Annual Australia and New Zealand Endovascular Therapies Meeting - Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 2 Aug 20185 Aug 2018

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