Gastric cooling and menthol cause an increase in cardiac parasympathetic efferent activity in healthy adult human volunteers.
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AbstractWhat is the central question of this study? How do gastric stretch and gastric cooling stimuli affect cardiac autonomic control? What is the main finding and its importance? Gastric stretch causes an increase in cardiac sympathetic activity. Stretch combined with cold stimulation result in an elimination of the sympathetic response to stretch and an increase in cardiac parasympathetic activity, in turn resulting in a reduction in heart rate. Gastric cold stimulation causes a shift in sympathovagal balance towards parasympathetic dominance. The cold-induced bradycardia has the potential to decrease cardiac workload, which might be significant in individuals with cardiovascular pathologies. Gastric distension increases blood pressure and heart rate in young, healthy humans, but little is known about the effect of gastric stretch combined with cooling. We used a randomized crossover study to assess the cardiovascular responses to drinking 300 ml of ispaghula husk solution at either 6 or 37°C in nine healthy humans (age 24.08 ± 9.36 years) to establish the effect of gastric stretch with and without cooling. The effect of consuming peppermint oil capsules to activate cold thermoreceptors was also investigated. The ECG, respiratory movements and continuous blood pressure were recorded during a 5 min baseline period, followed by a 115 min post-drink period, during which 5 min epochs of data were recorded. Cardiac autonomic activity was assessed using time and frequency domain analyses of respiratory sinus arrhythmia to quantify parasympathetic autonomic activity, and corrected QT (QTc) interval analysis to quantify sympathetic autonomic activity. Gastric stretch only caused a significant reduction in QTc interval lasting up to 15 min, with a concomitant but non-significant increase in heart rate, indicating an increased sympathetic cardiac tone. The additional effect of gastric cold stimulation was significantly to reduce heart rate for up to 15 min, elevate indicators of cardiac parasympathetic tone and eliminate the reduction in QTc interval seen with gastric stretch only. Stimulation of gastric cold thermoreceptors with menthol also caused a significant reduction in heart rate and concomitant increase in the root mean square of successive differences. These findings indicate that gastric cold stimulation causes a shift in the sympathovagal balance of cardiac control towards a more parasympathetic dominant pattern.
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