Vasodepressor reactions after orthotopic cardiac transplantation: Relationship to reinnervation status
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Ventricular vagal nerve endings are thought to trigger vasodepressor syncope. Reports of vasodepressor reactions associated with donor bradycardia after cardiac transplantation have led to speculation that vagal reinnervation occurs. We assessed reinnervation status in seven patients 23–36 months (median 24 months) post-transplantation. Heart rate responses to vagal manoeuvres (respiration, Valsalva) and sympathetic stimuli (exercise and injection of tyramine into the coronary artery supplying the sinus node) were measured. All patients underwent 60 min of 60° head-up tilt with foot plate support. During tilt four of the seven had vasodepressor reactions with a fall in mean arterial pressure of 20–90 mmHg. During vasodepression two patients had falls in donor heart rate of 13 and 40% relative to peak heart rate during tilt. These two patients had evidence of functional sympathetic reinnervation. By contrast the two patients without donor bradycardia during vasodepression had only limited or no evidence of sympathetic reinnervation. No patient had consistent evidence of parasympathetic reinnervation as judged by the heart rate response to vagal manoeuvres. Headup tilt can thus produce vasodepressor reactions with donor bradycardia after cardiac transplantation in the absence of consistent evidence of vagal reinnervation. Left ventricular nerve endings may not be the only mediators of tilt-induced vasodepressor reactions in man. Donor bradycardia during vasodepression may reflect sympathetic withdrawal and not vagal reinnervation.
Key wordsHeart transplantation Vasovagal Syncope Reinnervation
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