Noninvasive Assessment of Autonomic Cardiovascular Activity in Patients With Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia

      Inappropriate sinus tachycardia (IST) is a clinical syndrome characterized by excessive resting heart rate (HR) or disproportional HR increase during exercise. The etiology of IST has not been fully elucidated and remains controversial. The aim of the present study was to assess autonomic function by means of noninvasive tests and commonly available electrocardiographic methods in a series of consecutive patients with symptomatic IST. Twenty-four patients (37 ± 12 years; 20 women) with IST were enrolled. Six cardiovascular reflex tests were performed: (1) HR variation during slow deep breathing, (2) 30-to-15 ratio during active standing, (3) blood pressure response to standing, (4) cold face test, (5) Valsalva maneuver, and (6) blood pressure response to sustained handgrip. Intrinsic HR was calculated and compared with HR after pharmacologic denervation. Additionally, spontaneous baroreflex sensitivity and 24-hour HR variability indices were analyzed. In IST patients, intrinsic HR was significantly higher compared with control subjects. Most cardiovascular autonomic tests revealed abnormal or borderline results, particularly those reflecting mainly parasympathetic function. The spontaneous baroreflex gain was significantly reduced in IST patients. After controlled orthostatic stress and during Valsalva maneuver, impaired baroreflex function was observed. The sympathovagal balance from HR variability was preserved, but altered activity in both bands of frequency domain analysis was recorded. In conclusion, IST is a heterogenic syndrome with enhanced sinus node automaticity modulated by complex alterations of autonomic tone.
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