Favorable effects of carotid endarterectomy on baroreflex sensitivity and cardiovascular neural modulation: A 4-month follow-up

Laura Dalla Vecchia, Franca Barbic, Andrea Galli, Massimo Pisacreta, Rosella Gornati, Tiziano Porretta, Alberto Porta, Raffaello Furlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carotid surgery variably modifies carotid afferent innervation, thus affecting arterial baroreceptor sensitivity. Low arterial baroreflex sensitivity is a well-known independent risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. The aim of this study was to assess the 4-mo effects of carotid endarterectomy (CEA) on arterial baroreceptor sensitivity and cardiovascular autonomic profile in patients with unilateral carotid stenosis. We enrolled 20 patients (72 ± 8 yr) with unilateral >70% carotid stenosis. ECG, beat-by-beat blood pressure, and respiration were continuously recorded before and 126 ± 9 days after CEA, at rest and during a 75° head-up tilt. Both pharmacological (modified Oxford technique, BRS) and spontaneous (index α, spectral analysis) arterial baroreflex sensitivity were assessed. Cardiovascular autonomic profile was evaluated by plasma catecholamines and spectral indexes of cardiac sympathovagal modulation [low-frequency R-R interval (LFRR), low frequency-to high frequency ratio (LF/HF), highfrequency R-R interval (HFRR)] and sympathetic vasomotor control [low-frequency systolic arterial pressure (LFSAP)] obtained from heart rate and SAP variability. After CEA, both the index and BRS were higher (P <0.02) at rest. SAP variance decreased both at rest and during tilt (P <0.02). Before surgery, tilt did not modify the autonomic profile compared with baseline. After CEA, tilt increased LF/HF and LFSAP and reduced HFRR compared with rest (P <0.02). Four months after CEA was performed, arterial baroreflex sensitivity was enhanced. Accordingly, the patients' autonomic profile had shifted toward reduced cardiac and vascular sympathetic activation and enhanced cardiac vagal activity. The capability to increase cardiovascular sympathetic activation in response to orthostasis was restored. Baroreceptor sensitivity improvement might play an additional role in the more favorable outcome observed in patients after carotid surgery.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 15 2013


  • Arterial baroreflex sensitivity
  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Carotid endarterectomy
  • Head-up tilt test
  • Power spectrum analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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