Interactive effect of heart rate and muscle sympathetic nerve activity on blood pressure

Krzysztof Narkiewicz, Virend K. Somers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background - Sympathetic traffic to the peripheral vasculature and sympathetic discharge to the heart have complementary effects on blood pressure. Although faster heart rates have been linked to higher blood pressures, the relationship between muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) and long-term regulation of blood pressure is not clear. We tested the hypothesis that MSNA and heart rate are linked to blood pressure levels in normotensive subjects. Methods and Results - We studied normal young male (n=120) and female (n=48) subjects subdivided according to tertiles of heart rate and MSNA distributions. Systolic, diastolic, and pulse pressures were significantly different across the heart rate tertiles in male subjects, with the highest blood pressure values in the upper tertile of heart rate. No significant differences in blood pressure across the tertiles of MSNA were found. The relationship between MSNA and blood pressure, however, was affected by heart rate. MSNA did not influence blood pressure in the first and second heart rate tertiles. However, within the upper heart rate tertile, subjects with higher levels of MSNA had significantly higher systolic (P=0.02) and pulse (P=0.004) pressures than subjects with lower levels of MSNA. In female subjects, blood pressure was not different across the tertiles of heart rate or MSNA. Conclusions - MSNA and heart rate have interactive effects on systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure in normotensive male but not female subjects. No relationship between MSNA and blood pressure or pulse pressure is evident in subjects with slower heart rate. In male subjects with faster heart rates, higher levels of MSNA are associated with higher systolic and pulse pressures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2514-2518
Number of pages5
Issue number25
StatePublished - Dec 21 1999


  • Autonomic
  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Nervous system
  • Nervous system, sympathetic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Interactive effect of heart rate and muscle sympathetic nerve activity on blood pressure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this