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Signa Vitae

Journal of Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine

Frequency dependent effect of selective biphasic left vagus nerve stimulation on heart rate and arterial pressure


Activation of the parasympathetic pathway leads to negative chronotropic, dromotropic, and inotropic changes of heart function. The ability to selectively stimulate certain superficial compartments of peripheral nerves has been demonstrated previously. The aim of the present study was to find a clinically acceptable selective biphasic vagus nerve stimulation technique, which could allow gradual regulation of heart rate and systemic arterial pressure.  In two patients, the left vagus nerve was stimulated with a combination of quasi-trapezoidal cathodic and rectangular anodic current pulses with different stimulation frequencies (10Hz, 20Hz, 30Hz) and increasing current. The heart rate and systemic arterial pressure decreased with increasing current at all different stimulation frequencies (p<0.05). The heart rate and arterial pressure response was more gradual with 10Hz compared to 20Hz/30Hz vagus nerve stimulation (p<0.05). In conclusion, selective vagus nerve stimulation, with a combination of quasi-trapezoidal cathodic and rectangular anodic current pulses at 10Hz, offers gradual heart rate and systolic arterial pressure control.


Key words: vagus nerve, electrical stimulation, heart rate, arterial pressure

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Temperature to heart rate relationship in the neonate

Key words: neonate, fever, hypothermia, heart rate, neonatal sepsis

In neonatal intensive care, measurement of heart rate is part of every clinical examination and it is used for monitoring hemodynamic status. However, it is influenced by some exogenous and endogenous factors, such as medication, pain, and stress. (1) Similarly, an increased heart rate is a normal physiological response to fever. Heart rate is known to increase by 10 beats per minute (bpm) per degree centigrade increase in body temperature in children. (2) In order to allow physicians to identify patients who have a higher heart rate than would be expected for a given level of temperature, Thompson et al. (3) created temperature specific heart rate centile charts adaptable to children from three months to ten years. Very few data exist on the relationship of temperature and heart rate in younger infants. The only study on this topic so far was performed in an emergency department that included infants up to the age of 12 months, where they found no linear correlation between fever and heart rate in the group of infants younger than two months. (4) To our knowledge no studies have ever addressed this issue in newborns.

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