Background: Baroreflex allows to reduce sudden rises or falls of arterial pressure through parallel RR interval fluctuations induced by autonomic nervous system. During spontaneous breathing, the application of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) may affect the autonomic nervous system, as suggested by changes in baroreflex efficiency and RR variability. During mechanical ventilation, some patients have stable cardiorespiratory phase difference and high-frequency amplitude of RR variability (HF-RR amplitude) over time and others do not. Our first hypothesis was that a steady pattern could be associated with reduced baroreflex sensitivity and HF-RR amplitude, reflecting a blunted autonomic nervous function. Our second hypothesis was that PEEP, widely used in critical care patients, could affect their autonomic function, promoting both steady pattern and reduced baroreflex sensitivity.Methods: We tested the effect of increasing PEEP from 5 to 10 cm H2O on the breathing variability of arterial pressure and RR intervals, and on the baroreflex. Invasive arterial pressure, ECG and ventilatory flow were recorded in 23 mechanically ventilated patients during 15 minutes for both PEEP levels. HF amplitude of RR and systolic blood pressure (SBP) time series and HF phase differences between RR, SBP and ventilatory signals were continuously computed by complex demodulation. Cross-spectral analysis was used to assess the coherence and gain functions between RR and SBP, yielding baroreflex-sensitivity indices.Results: At PEEP 10, the 12 patients with a stable pattern had lower baroreflex gain and HF-RR amplitude of variability than the 11 other patients. Increasing PEEP was generally associated with a decreased baroreflex gain and a greater stability of HF-RR amplitude and cardiorespiratory phase difference. Four patients who exhibited a variable pattern at PEEP 5 became stable at PEEP 10. At PEEP 10, a stable pattern was associated with higher organ failure score and catecholamine dosage.Conclusions: During mechanical ventilation, stable HF-RR amplitude and cardiorespiratory phase difference over time reflect a blunted autonomic nervous function which might worsen as PEEP increases.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine