A goal of clinicians caring for heart transplant recipients has been to use heart rate variability as a noninvasive means of diagnosing graft rejection. The determinants of beat-to-beat variability in the surgically denervated heart have yet to be elucidated. We used an isolated, blood buffer-perfused porcine heart preparation to quantitatively assess the relationship between coronary perfusion and sinus node automaticity. Hearts (n = 9) were suspended in a Langendorff preparation, and heart rate (HR) fluctuations were quantified while perfusion pressure was modulated between 70/50, 80/60, 90/70, and 100/80 mmHg at 0.067 Hz. In 32 of 32 recordings the cross spectrum of perfusion pressure vs. HR showed the largest peak centered at 0.067 Hz. In eight of nine experiments during nonpulsatile perfusion, HR accelerated as perfusion pressure was increased from 40 to 110 mmHg (mean increase 24.2 ± 3.0 beats/min). HR increased 0.34 beats/min per mmHg increase in perfusion pressure (least squares linear regression y = -25.8 mmHg - 0.34x; r = 0.88, P < 0.0001), Administration of low- and high-dose nitroglycerin (Ntg) resulted in a modest increase in flow but produced a significant decrease in HR and blunted the response of HR to changes in perfusion pressure (HR increase 0.26 beats·min-1·mmHg-1, r = 0.87, P < 0.0001 after low-dose Ntg; 0.25 beats·min-1·mmHg-1, r = 0.78, P < 0.0001 after high-dose Ntg). These experiments suggest that sinus node discharge in the isolated perfused heart is mechanically coupled to perfusion pressure on a beat-to-beat basis.
- Heart rate variability
- Heart transplantation