Independent control of skin and muscle sympathetic nerve activity in patients with heart failure.
BACKGROUND Sympathetic excitation characterizes heart failure, but the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. Abnormal baroreflex restraint of sympathetic neural outflow has been proposed, since baroreflexes are known to be abnormal in heart failure. The purpose of this study was to determine if sympathetic activation in humans with heart failure is limited to regions governed by the baroreflexes or is generalized to other regions free from baroreflex control.
METHODS AND RESULTS We report the first direct recordings of skin sympathetic nerve activity (free from baroreflex control) in humans with heart failure and compare simultaneous skin and muscle (baroreflex-dependent) sympathetic peroneal nerve activity in six patients with severe heart failure (mean left ventricular ejection fraction, 0.19 +/- 0.06) and in six age-matched normal control subjects. Although muscle sympathetic nerve activity was markedly increased in heart failure patients (heart failure versus controls, 69 +/- 3 versus 21 +/- 2 bursts per minute; P < .001), skin sympathetic nerve activity was not increased (heart failure versus controls, 12 +/- 1 versus 15 +/- 1 bursts per minute; P = NS).
CONCLUSIONS The finding that skin sympathetic nerve activity in contrast to muscle sympathetic nerve activity is not increased in heart failure supports the concept that an altered reflex system, such as the baroreflexes, with nonuniform effects on muscle and skin sympathetic nerve activity, underlies sympatho-excitation in heart failure.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association