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