Persistent sympathoexcitation long after submaximal exercise in subjects with and without coronary artery disease

Norman C. Wang, Alexandru Chicos, Smriti Banthia, Daniel W. Bergner, Marc K. Lahiri, Jason Ng, Haris Subačius, Alan H. Kadish, Jeffrey J. Goldberger

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14 Scopus citations


There is an increased risk of cardiac events after exercise, which may, in part, be mediated by the sympathoexcitation that accompanies exercise. The duration and extent of this sympathoexcitation following moderate exercise is unknown, particularly in those with coronary artery disease (CAD). Twenty control subjects (mean age, 51 years) and 89 subjects with CAD (mean age, 58 years) underwent two 16-min bicycle exercise sessions followed by 30-45 min of recovery. Session 1 was performed under physiological conditions to peak workloads of 50-100 W. In session 2, parasympathetic blockade with atropine (0.04 mg/kg) was achieved at end exercise at the same workload as session 1. RR interval was continually recorded, and plasma catecholamines were measured at rest and selected times during exercise and recovery. Parasympathetic effect, measured as the difference in RR interval with and without atropine, did not differ between controls and CAD subjects in recovery. At 30 and 45 min of recovery, RR intervals were 12% and 9%, respectively, shorter than at rest. At 30 and 45 min of recovery, plasma norepinephrine levels were 15% and 12%, respectively, higher than at rest. A brief period of moderate exercise is associated with a prolonged period of sympathoexcitation extending >45 min into recovery and is quantitatively similar among control subjects and subjects with CAD, with or without left ventricular dysfunction. Parasympathetic reactivation occurs early after exercise and is also surprisingly quantitatively similar in controls and subjects with CAD. The role of these autonomic changes in precipitating cardiac events requires further evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H912-H920
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Catecholamines
  • Sympathetic activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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