Neurovascular responses to mental stress in the supine and upright postures

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The purpose of this study was to determine neurovascular responses to mental stress (MS) in the supine and upright postures. MS was elicited in 23 subjects (26 ± 1 yr) by 5 min of mental arithmetic. In study 1 (n = 9), Doppler ultrasound was used to measure mean blood flow velocity in the renal (RBFV) and superior mesenteric arteries (SMBFV), and venous occlusion plethysmography was used to measure forearm blood flow (FBF). In study 2 (n = 14), leg blood flow (LBF; n = 9) was measured by Doppler ultrasound, and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA; n = 5) was measured by microneurography. At rest, upright posture increased heart rate and MSNA and decreased LBF, FBF, RBFV, and SMBFV and their respective conductances. MS elicited similar increases in mean arterial blood pressure (∼12 mmHg) and heart rate (∼17 beats/min), regardless of posture. MS in both postures elicited a decrease in RBFV, SMBFV, and their conductances and an increase in LBF, FBF, and their conductances. Changes in blood flow were blunted in the upright posture in all vascular beds examined, but the pattern of the vascular response was the same as the supine posture. MS did not change MSNA in either posture (change: ∼1 ± 3 and ∼3 ± 3 bursts/min, respectively). In conclusion, the augmented sympathetic activity of the upright posture does not alter heart rate, mean arterial blood pressure, or MSNA responses to MS. MS elicits divergent vascular responses in the visceral and peripheral vasculature. These results indicate that, although the upright posture attenuates vascular responses to MS, the pattern of neurovascular responses does not differ between postures.

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© 2008 the American Physiological Society. Publisher's version of record: https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.01285.2007

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Journal of Applied Physiology