Nitric oxide and cardiac parasympathetic control in human heart failure

Saqib Chowdhary, Ghulam Ng, John Coote, Jonathan Townend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)


Cardiac parasympathetic control has prognostic significance in heart failure, but the control mechanisms of this system remain poorly defined. We have demonstrated previously a facilitatory role for nitric oxide (NO) in the parasympathetic control of heart rate in young healthy human subjects. In view of the complex abnormalities of regional NO activity observed in chronic heart failure, we now aim to establish if this mechanism is active in subjects with this condition. Groups of 12 heart failure patients [NYHA class II-III; mean age 52 years (range 38-67 years)] and 12 age/sex-matched healthy control subjects [mean age 50 years (range 36-62 years)] were studied. Heart rate variability and baroreflex sensitivity were measured during inhibition of endogenous NO production with N(G)-monomethyl-l-arginine (l-NMMA; 3 mg.h(-1).kg(-1)) and during administration of an equipressor dose of the control vasoconstrictor phenylephrine (12-36 microg.h(-1).kg(-1)). Basal levels of nitrate+nitrite were measured in the plasma as an indication of systemic NO production. In the heart failure patients, despite an equal rise in blood pressure with both drugs, high-frequency indices of heart rate variability increased less with l-NMMA than with phenylephrine: RMSSD (root mean square of successive RR-interval differences) increased by 4+/-2 compared with 26+/-8 ms (P
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-402
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2002


  • baroreflex
  • heart rate variability
  • autonomic nervous system
  • nitric oxide
  • heart failure


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