Clinical Autonomic Research

, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 369–375 | Cite as

Autonomic nervous system activity in normotensive subjects with a family history of hypertension

  • Jerica Maver
  • Martin Štrucl
  • Rok Accetto


This study was designed to address alterations in autonomic nervous system activity in normotensive subjects with a family history of hypertension. We compared the autonomic nervous system activity in 59 normotensives with a family history of hypertension and 46 normotensives with no family history of hypertension. Skin blood flow was measured using laser-Doppler method on the nailfold skin in the resting condition, during systemic cooling and during upright tilting. Finger blood pressure, pulse and ECG were monitored by a finapres device. Heart rate, systolic pressure and microvascular flow power spectral analyses were performed using fast Fourier transformation. Baroreflex sensitivity was estimated with the sequence method. Compared to the control group, normotensives with a family history of hypertension showed significantly higher systolic pressure, decreased proportion and area of the high-frequency band of the heart rate variability power spectrum and reduced baroreflex sensitivity in the resting condition as well as a decreased proportion and area of the high-frequency band of the heart rate variability power spectrum during systemic cooling. We also proved a different time course of baroreflex sensitivity during upright tilting in the two groups. In contrast, we did not find any significant differences in the parameters of systolic pressure and microvascular variability power spectra between the two groups. Our results indicate that even normotensives with a family history of hypertension exhibit an increased ratio of sympathetic to parasympathetic activity at the cardiac level; however, they do not show any alteration of the vascular sympathetic reactivity.

Key words

baroreflex autonomic nervous system hypertension tilt-table test 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Physiology, Medical FacultyUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia
  2. 2.Franc Derganc General Hospital, Dept. of CardiologyŠempeter pri GoriciSlovenia
  3. 3.Nova GoricaSlovenia
  4. 4.University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Division of HypertensionLjubljanaSlovenia

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