Orthostatic Stress and Baroreflex Sensitivity: A Window into Autonomic Dysfunction in Lone Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation

Mónica Ferreira, Sérgio Laranjo, Pedro Cunha, Vera Geraldes, Mário Oliveira, Isabel Rocha

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The abnormal neural control of atria has been considered one of the mechanisms of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF) pathogenesis. The baroreceptor reflex has an important role in cardiovascular regulation and may serve as an index of autonomic function. This study aimed to analyze the baroreceptor reflex’s role in heart rate regulation during upright tilt (HUT) in patients with lone PAF. The study included 68 patients with lone PAF and 34 healthy individuals who underwent baroreflex assessment. Parameters such as baroreflex sensitivity (BRS), number of systolic blood pressure (BP) ramps, and the baroreflex effectiveness index (BEI) were evaluated. The study found that PAF patients had comparable resting BPs and heart rates (HRs) to healthy individuals. However, unlike healthy individuals, PAF patients showed a sustained increase in BP with an upright posture followed by the delayed activation of the baroreceptor function with a blunted HR response and lower BEI values. This indicates a pronounced baroreflex impairment in PAF patients, even at rest. Our data suggest that together with BRS, BEI could be used as a marker of autonomic dysfunction in PAF patients, making it important to further investigate its relationship with AF recurrence after ablation and its involvement in cardiovascular autonomic remodeling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5857
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • atrial fibrillation
  • autonomic function
  • baroreceptor reflex
  • baroreflex effectiveness index
  • baroreflex gain


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