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A comparative study on vagal activity in normotensive, pre-hypertensive, and hypertensive individuals

Arunkumar Balakrishnan, Nirmala Natarajan.


Background: Hypertension is the most common non-communicable disease which on a long term can lead to coronary artery disease and stroke. Pre-hypertension is one step toward hypertension. Pre-hypertension if detected at an earlier stage and intervened, the risk of hypertension and consequently the cardiovascular risk of the individual can be reduced. Vagal tone is an indirect measure of the baroreflex arc integrity. The present study was done to evaluate the vagal (parasympathetic) activity in normotensive (NT), pre-hypertensive (PT), and hypertensive (HT) individuals.

Aims and objectives: The aims of this study were to compare the differences in vagal activity in NT, PT, and HT individuals.

Materials and Methods: The following parasympathetic function tests were performed on 30 NT, 30 PT, and 30 HT subjects: (1) Heart rate (HR) response to standing, (2) HR response to deep breathing, and (3) Valsalva maneuver.

Results: Our findings showed that there is a severely impaired parasympathetic activity in HTs and a mildly impaired parasympathetic activity in PTs.

Conclusion: In PTs, non-pharmacological measures like deep breathing exercises and yoga might improve the vagal tone and help in the prevention of hypertension and its complications in future.

Key words: Hypertension; Prehypertension; Vagal Activity; Parasympathetic Activity

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