16 February 2017
The blood pressure “error signal” represents the difference between an individual’s mean diastolic blood pressure and the diastolic blood pressure at which 50% of cardiac cycles are associated with a muscle sympathetic nerve activity burst (the “T50”). In this study we evaluated whether T50 and the error signal related to the extent of change in blood pressure during autonomic blockade in young and older women, to study potential differences in sympathetic neural mechanisms regulating blood pressure before and after menopause.
We measured muscle sympathetic nerve activity and blood pressure in 12 premenopausal (25±1 years) and 12 postmenopausal women (61±2 years) before and during complete autonomic blockade with trimethaphan camsylate.
At baseline, young women had a negative error signal (−8±1 versus 2±1 mmHg, p<0.001; respectively) and lower muscle sympathetic nerve activity (15±1 versus 33±3 bursts/min, p<0.001; respectively) than older women. The change in diastolic blood pressure after autonomic blockade was associated with baseline T50 in older women (r=−0.725, p=0.008) but not in young women (r=−0.337, p=0.29). Women with the most negative error signal had the lowest muscle sympathetic nerve activity in both groups (young: r=0.886, p<0.001; older: r=0.870, p<0.001).