Clinical Autonomic Research

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 327–336 | Cite as

Effects of cholinergic and β-adrenergic blockade on orthostatic tolerance in healthy subjects

Research Paper


Cardiovascular responses during a graded lower body negative pressure (LBNP) protocol were compared before and after atropine and propranolol administration to test the hypothesis that both sympathetic and parasympathetic control of cardioacceleration are associated with syncopal predisposition to orthostatic stress in healthy subjects. Eleven men were categorized into two groups having high (HT, N=6) or low (LT, N=5) tolerance based on their total time before the onset of presyncopal symptoms. HT and LT groups were similar in physical characteristics, fitness, and baseline cardiovascular measurements. Atropine treatment had no effect on LBNP tolerance or mean arterial pressure at presyncope, despite an atropine-induced increase in heart rate. Propranolol treatment reduced (p<0.05) LBNP tolerance in both groups. Diminished LBNP tolerance after propranolol administration was associated with reductions in cardiac output, whereas increase in systemic peripheral resistance from baseline to presyncope was unaffected by propranolol. Reduction in cardiac output and LBNP tolerance after β blockade reflected a chronotropic effect because lower LBNP tolerance for the HT (−50%) and LT (−39%) groups was associated with dramatic reductions (p<0.05) in the magnitude of LBNP-induced tachycardia without significant effects on stroke volume at presyncope. Absence of an atropine-induced difference in cardiac output and systemic peripheral resistance between HT and LT groups failed to support the notion that cardiac vagal withdrawal represents a predominant mechanism that could account for differences in orthostatic tolerance. Because a reduction in LBNP tolerance in both HT and LT groups after propranolol treatment was most closely associated with reduced tachycardia, the data suggest that a primary autonomically mediated mechanism for maintenance of mean arterial pressure and orthostatic tolerance in healthy subjects is β adrenergic-induced tachycardia.

Key words

orthostatic tolerance blood pressure regulation lower body negative pressure parasympathetic activty sympathetic activity propranolol atropine 


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Copyright information

© Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Library BranchU.S. Army Institute of Surgical ResearchFort Sam Houston
  2. 2.Beverly RehabilitationSanta RosaUSA

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