Simultaneous noninvasive recording of skin sympathetic nerve activity and electrocardiogram

Anisiia Doytchinova, Jonathan L. Hassel, Yuan Yuan, Hongbo Lin, Dechun Yin, David Adams, Susan Straka, Keith Wright, Kimberly Smith, David Wagner, Changyu Shen, Vicenta Salanova, Chad Meshberger, Lan S. Chen, John C. Kincaid, Arthur C. Coffey, Gang Wu, Yan Li, Richard J. Kovacs, Thomas H. EverettRonald Victor, Yong Mei Cha, Shien Fong Lin, Peng Sheng Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Background Sympathetic nerve activity is important to cardiac arrhythmogenesis. Objective The purpose of this study was to develop a method for simultaneous noninvasive recording of skin sympathetic nerve activity (SKNA) and electrocardiogram (ECG) using conventional ECG electrodes. This method (neuECG) can be used to adequately estimate sympathetic tone. Methods We recorded neuECG signals from the skin of 56 human subjects. The signals were low-pass filtered to show the ECG and high-pass filtered to show nerve activity. Protocol 1 included 12 healthy volunteers who underwent cold water pressor test and Valsalva maneuver. Protocol 2 included 19 inpatients with epilepsy but without known heart diseases monitored for 24 hours. Protocol 3 included 22 patients admitted with electrical storm and monitored for 39.0 ± 28.2 hours. Protocol 4 included 3 patients who underwent bilateral stellate ganglion blockade with lidocaine injection. Results In patients without heart diseases, spontaneous nerve discharges were frequently observed at baseline and were associated with heart rate acceleration. SKNA recorded from chest leads (V1–V6) during cold water pressor test and Valsalva maneuver (protocol 1) was invariably higher than during baseline and recovery periods (P <.001). In protocol 2, the average SKNA correlated with heart rate acceleration (r = 0.73 ± 0.14, P <.05) and shortening of QT interval (P <.001). Among 146 spontaneous ventricular tachycardia episodes recorded in 9 patients of protocol 3, 106 episodes (73%) were preceded by SKNA within 30 seconds of onset. Protocol 4 showed that bilateral stellate ganglia blockade by lidocaine inhibited SKNA. Conclusion SKNA is detectable using conventional ECG electrodes in humans and may be useful in estimating sympathetic tone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-33
Number of pages9
JournalHeart rhythm
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Cold water pressor test
  • Microneurography
  • Sympathetic nerve activity
  • Ventricular tachycardia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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