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      Blood pressure response to exposure to moderate altitude in patients with COPD

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          Patients with COPD might be particularly susceptible to hypoxia-induced autonomic dysregulation. Decreased baroreflex sensitivity (BRS) and increased blood pressure (BP) variability (BPV) are markers of impaired cardiovascular autonomic regulation and there is evidence for an association between decreased BRS/increased BPV and high cardiovascular risk. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of short-term exposure to moderate altitude on BP and measures of cardiovascular autonomic regulation in COPD patients.

          Materials and methods

          Continuous morning beat-to-beat BP was noninvasively measured with a Finometer ® device for 10 minutes at low altitude (490 m, Zurich, Switzerland) and for 2 days at moderate altitude (2,590 m, Davos Jakobshorn, Switzerland) – the order of altitude exposure was randomized. Outcomes of interest were mean SBP and DBP, BPV expressed as the coefficient of variation (CV), and spontaneous BRS. Changes between low altitude and day 1 and day 2 at moderate altitude were assessed by ANOVA for repeated measurements with Fisher’s exact test analysis.


          Thirty-seven patients with moderate to severe COPD (mean±SD age 64±6 years, FEV 1 60%±17%) were included. Morning SBP increased by +10.8 mmHg (95% CI: 4.7–17.0, P=0.001) and morning DBP by +5.0 mmHg (95% CI: 0.8–9.3, P=0.02) in response to altitude exposure. BRS significantly decreased ( P=0.03), whereas BPV significantly and progressively increased ( P<0.001) upon exposure to altitude.


          Exposure of COPD patients to moderate altitude is associated with a clinically relevant increase in BP, which seems to be related to autonomic dysregulation.

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          Most cited references 36

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          Baroreflex sensitivity and heart-rate variability in prediction of total cardiac mortality after myocardial infarction. ATRAMI (Autonomic Tone and Reflexes After Myocardial Infarction) Investigators.

          Experimental evidence suggests that autonomic markers such as heart-rate variability and baroreflex sensitivity (BRS) may contribute to postinfarction risk stratification. There are clinical data to support this concept for heart-rate variability. The main objective of the ATRAMI study was to provide prospective data on the additional and independent prognostic value for cardiac mortality of heart-rate variability and BRS in patients after myocardial infarction in whom left-ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and ventricular arrhythmias were known. This multicentre international prospective study enrolled 1284 patients with a recent ( 105 ms, BRS >6.1 ms per mm Hg). The association of low SDNN or BRS with LVEF below 35% carried a relative risk of 6.7 (3.1-14.6) or 8.7 (4.3-17.6), respectively, compared with patients with LVEF above 35% and less compromised SDNN (> or = 70 ms) and BRS (> or = 3 ms per mm Hg). ATRAMI provides clinical evidence that after myocardial infarction the analysis of vagal reflexes has significant prognostic value independently of LVEF and of ventricular arrhythmias and that it significantly adds to the prognostic value of heart-rate variability.
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            Relationship of 24-hour blood pressure mean and variability to severity of target-organ damage in hypertension.

            Casual blood pressure (BP) can predict the development of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, but the correlations between its values and the subsequent occurrence of such complications are low. This may depend on different individual resistance to the damage produced by hypertension. However, it may also depend on the recognized inability of causal BP to reflect accurately the 24-h mean and profile BP. In order to test the latter hypothesis, 24-h BP was recorded intra-arterially (Oxford method) in 108 hospitalized subjects with essential hypertension ranging from mild to severe. The 24-h means and standard deviations (i.e. variabilities) for systolic, mean and diastolic BP obtained by computer analysis of the BP tracing were related to the rate and severity of target-organ damage (TOD) assessed by clinical examination and quantified according to a predetermined score. The results confirmed that 24-h BP may be variably different from cuff BP among subjects. For nearly any value of cuff BP, subjects in whom the 24-h mean BP was low had a lower prevalence and severity of TOD than those in whom the 24-h mean BP was high (P less than 0.01). Furthermore, for nearly any level of 24-h mean BP, subjects in whom the 24-h BP variability was low had a lower prevalence and severity of TOD than those in whom the 24-h BP variability was high (P less than 0.05). These findings demonstrate that the severity of hypertension is more closely related to 24-h mean BP than to cuff BP values.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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              Fifteen years experience with finger arterial pressure monitoring: assessment of the technology.

              We review the Finapres technology, embodied in several TNO-prototypes and in the Ohmeda 2300 and 2300e Finapres NIBP. Finapres is an acronym for FINger Arterial PRESsure, the device delivers a continuous finger arterial pressure waveform. Many papers report on the accuracy of the device in comparison with intra-arterial or with noninvasive but intermittent blood pressure measurements. We compiled the results of 43 such papers and found systolic, diastolic and mean accuracies, in this order, ranging from -48 to 30 mmHg, from -20 to 18 mmHg, and from -13 to 25 mmHg. Weighted for the number of subjects included pooled accuracies were -0.8 (SD 11.9), -1.6 (8.3) and -1.6 (7.6) mmHg respectively. Subdividing the pooled group according to criteria such as reference blood pressure, place of application, and prototype or commercial device we found no significant differences in mean differences or SD. Measurement at the finger allows uninterrupted recordings of long duration. The transmission of the pressure pulse along the arm arteries, however, causes distortion of the pulse waveform and depression of the mean blood pressure level. These effects can be reduced by appropriate filtering, and upper arm 'return-to-flow' calibration to bring accuracy and precision within AAMI limits. For the assessment of beat-to-beat changes in blood pressure and assessment of blood pressure variability Finapres proved a reliable alternative for invasive measurements when mean and diastolic pressures are concerned. Differences in systolic pressure are larger and reach statistical significance but are not of clinical relevance. Finger arteries are affected by contraction and dilatation in relation to psychological and physical (heat, cold, blood loss, orthostasis) stress. Effects of these phenomena are reduced by the built-in Physiocal algorithm. However, full smooth muscle contraction should be avoided in the awake patient by comforting the patient, and covering the hand. Arterial state can be monitored by observing the behaviour of the Physiocal algorithm. We conclude that Finapres accuracy and precision usually suffice for reliable tracking of changes in blood pressure. Diagnostic accuracy may be achieved with future application of corrective measures.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of COPD
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                Dove Medical Press
                14 March 2019
                : 14
                : 659-666
                [1 ]Department of Pulmonology and Sleep Disorders Centre, University Hospital of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, malcolm.kohler@
                [2 ]Centre for Integrative Human Physiology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, malcolm.kohler@
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Malcolm Kohler, Respiratory Medicine, Department of Pulmonology and Sleep Disorders Centre, University Hospital of Zurich, Raemistrasse 100, Zurich, Switzerland, Tel +41 44 255 9751, Fax +41 44 255 4451, Email malcolm.kohler@
                © 2019 Schwarz et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Original Research

                Respiratory medicine

                copd, hypobaric hypoxia, baroreflex sensitivity, blood pressure variability


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