Influence of sympathetic nerve activity on aortic hemodynamics and pulse wave velocity in women

Ronée E. Harvey, Jill N. Barnes, Emma C J Hart, Wayne T. Nicholson, Michael Joseph Joyner, Darren P. Casey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


Central (aortic) blood pressure, arterial stiffness, and sympathetic nerve activity increase with age in women. However, it is unknown if the age-related increase in sympathetic activity influences aortic hemodynamics and carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV), an index of central aortic stiffness. The goal of this study was to determine if aortic hemodynamics and cfPWV are directly influenced by sympathetic nerve activity by measuring aortic hemodynamics, cfPWV, and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) in women before and during autonomic ganglionic blockade with trimethaphan camsylate. We studied 12 young premenopausal (23 ± 4 yr) and 12 older postmenopausal (57 ± 3 yr) women. These women did not differ in body mass index or mean arterial pressure (P > 0.05 for both). At baseline, postmenopausal women had higher aortic pulse pressure, augmented pressure, augmentation index adjusted for a heart rate of 75 beats/min, wasted left ventricular pressure energy, and cfPWV than young women (P < 0.05). During ganglionic blockade, postmenopausal women had a greater decrease in these variables in comparison to young women (P < 0.05). Additionally, baseline MSNA was negatively correlated with the reductions in aortic pulse pressure, augmented pressure, and wasted left ventricular pressure energy during ganglionic blockade in postmenopausal women (P < 0.05) but not young women. Baseline MSNA was not correlated with the changes in augmentation index adjusted for a heart rate of 75 beats/min or cfPWV in either group (P > 0.05 for all). Our results suggest that some aortic hemodynamic parameters are influenced by sympathetic activity to a greater extent in older postmenopausal women than in young premenopausal women. New & Noteworthy Autonomic ganglionic blockade results in significant decreases in multiple aortic pulse wave characteristics (e.g., augmented pressure) and central pulse wave velocity in older postmenopausal women but not in young premenopausal women. Certain aortic pulse wave parameters are negatively influenced by sympathetic activity to a greater extent in older postmenopausal women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H340-H346
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 17 2017



  • Aging
  • Arterial stiffness
  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Central hemodynamics
  • Menopause

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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