The effect of aging on cardiac autonomic and postganglionic sudomotor function

Phillip A. Low, Tonette L. Opfer‐Gehrking, Carol J. Proper, Irvin Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Little quantitative information is available on the effects of age on peripheral autonomic function. We studied the effect of age on the heart rate (HR) responses to deep breathing and the Valsalva maneuver in 122 and 155 subjects, respectively, aged 10 to 83 years. The quantitative sudomotor axon reflex test (QSART) was determined in 114 subjects in the same age group. The HR responses were not different between the sexes, but a consistently significant regression with age was demonstrated in response to deep breathing and the Valsalva ratio. The QSART responses were significantly larger in male subjects and were generally lower in older subjects of both sexes but a significant negative regression with age was found only in female subjects. Cardiac vagal function is impaired with age, but postganglionic sympathetic function is little affected by age, suggesting selectivity of effects of aging on autonomic function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-157
Number of pages6
JournalMuscle & Nerve
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1990


  • Valsalva maneuver
  • age
  • autonomic
  • heart rate
  • neuropathy
  • postganglionic
  • sudomotor
  • sympathetic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of aging on cardiac autonomic and postganglionic sudomotor function'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this