We recently demonstrated that postmenopausal women have an augmented blood pressure response to voluntary apnea compared to premenopausal women. Both obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and healthy aging are associated with increased oxidative stress, which may impair cardiovascular function. Restoring physiological responses could have clinical relevance since transient surges in blood pressure are thought to be an important stimulus for endorgan damage in aging and disease. We tested the hypothesis that acute antioxidant infusion improves physiological responses to voluntary apnea in healthy postmenopausal women (n = 8, 64 ± 2 year). We measured beat-bybeat mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR), and brachial artery blood flow velocity (BBFV, Doppler ultrasound) following intravenous infusion of normal saline and ascorbic acid (~3500 mg). Subjects performed maximal voluntary end-expiratory apneas and changes (Δ) from baseline were compared between infusions. The breath hold duration and oxygen saturation nadir were similar between saline (29 ± 6 sec, 94 ± 1%) and ascorbic acid (29 ± 5 sec, 94 ± 1%). Ascorbic acid attenuated the pressor response to voluntary apnea (ΔMAP: 6 ± 2 mmHg) as compared to saline (ΔMAP: 12 ± 2 mmHg, P = 0.034) and also attenuated forearm vasoconstriction (ΔBBFV: 4 ± 9 vs. –12 ± 7%, P = 0.049) but did not affect ΔHR. We conclude that ascorbic acid lowers the blood pressure response to voluntary apnea in postmenopausal women by inhibiting vasoconstriction in the limb vasculature. Whether ascorbic acid has similar effects in OSA patients remains to be prospectively tested.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physiology (medical)