Caffeine, gravity, and baroreceptor function: the integration diet and cardiovascular control

David Hauton, Clare Ray

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We describe a simple, cost-effective experiment to demonstrate cardiovascular integration of heart rate and blood pressure to accommodate the environmental and dietary factors of gravity and caffeine. Specific learning objectives associated with this include understanding the effects of posture on blood pressure and heart rate, coupled with the role of caffeine in modifying this response. Inclusion of ECG measurements, coupled with heart rate variability analysis, added a demonstration of the contribution made by the autonomic nervous system under these conditions. We clearly demonstrate that the cardiac work, estimated as rate-pressure product, necessary to undertake the transition from supine to standing, is fixed for a given group of subjects. However, the individual contribution of heart rate and systolic pressure to the cardiac workload is subject to the external factors of gravity and caffeine. Such an activity also demonstrates additional benefits, including unstructured teaching opportunities to augment classroom learning associated with integrative physiology and also the discussion of ethical issues with regard to human experimentation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-461
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Advances in Physiology Education
Early online date4 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • Autonomic Nervous System
  • Blood Pressure
  • Caffeine
  • Cardiac Work
  • Orthostasis


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