Radial pulse and electrocardiography modulation by mild thermal stresses applied to feet: An exploratory study with randomized, crossover design

  • Jang-Han Bae
  • Boncho Ku
  • Young Ju Jeon
  • Hyunho Kim
  • Jihye Kim
  • Haebeom Lee
  • Jong Yeol Kim
  • Jaeuk U. KimEmail author
Original Article



To investigate the changes in radial pulse induced by thermal stresses (TSs).


Sixty subjects were enrolled. Using an open-label, 2×2 crossover randomization design, both feet of each subject were immersed in 15 °C water for cold stress (CS) and in 40 °C water for heat stress (HS) for 5 min each. Radial pulse, respiration and electrocardiogram (ECG) signals were recorded before, during and immediately after the TSs.


The analysis of heart rate variability revealed that CS increased the low-frequency (LF) and high-frequency (HF) components (P <0.05) and that HS reduced the LF and HF components (P <0.01). Both TSs reduced the normalized LF, increased the normalized HF, and reduced the LF/HF ratio. The differences in the ECG signals were more dominant during the TS sessions, but those in the radial pulse signals became more dominant immediately after the TS sessions. CS decreased the pulse depth (P <0.01) and increased the radial augmentation index (P <0.1), and HS increased the pulse pressure (P <0.1) and subendocardial viability ratio (P <0.01). There were no significant differences in pulse rate during the three time sequences of each TS. The respiration rate was increased (P <0.1), and the pulse rate per respiration (P/R ratio) was significantly decreased (P <0.05) with CS. The HF region (10–30 Hz) of the pulse spectral density was suppressed during both TSs.


CS induced vasoconstriction and sympathetic reactions, and HS induced vasodilation and parasympathetic reactions. Based on definitions used in pulse diagnosis, we made the novel discoveries that the pulse became slower (decreased P/R ratio), more floating and tenser under CS and that the HF region of the spectral power decreased significantly under both TSs.


radial pulse pulse diagnosis thermal stress electrocardiography heart rate variability 


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We thank all the subjects who participated in this study and our colleagues.

Supplementary material

11655_2017_2972_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (231 kb)
Radial pulse and electrocardiography modulation by mild thermal stresses applied to feet: An exploratory study with randomized, crossover design


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Copyright information

© Chinese Association of the Integration of Traditional and Western Medicine 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jang-Han Bae
    • 1
  • Boncho Ku
    • 1
  • Young Ju Jeon
    • 1
  • Hyunho Kim
    • 2
  • Jihye Kim
    • 1
  • Haebeom Lee
    • 3
  • Jong Yeol Kim
    • 1
  • Jaeuk U. Kim
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Korean Medicine Fundamental Research DivisionKorea Institute of Oriental MedicineDaejeonRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Biofunctional Medicine and Diagnostics, College of Korea n MedicineKyung Hee UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Department of Human Informatics of Korean Medicine, Interdisciplinary ProgramsKyung Hee UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea

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