Effects of the cold pressor test on cardiac autonomic control in normal subjects

L. Mourot, M. Bouhaddi, J. Regnard

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77 Citations (Scopus)


The cold pressor test (CPT) triggers in healthy subjects a vascular sympathetic activation and an increase in blood pressure. The heart rate (HR) response to this test is less well defined, with a high inter-individual variability. We used traditional spectral analysis together with the non-linear detrended fluctuation analysis to study the autonomic control of HR during a 3-min CPT. 39 healthy young subjects (23.7±3.2 years, height 180.4±4.7 cm and weight 73.3±6.4 kg) were divided into two groups according to their HR responses to CPT. Twenty subjects have a sustained increase in HR throughout the test with reciprocal autonomic interaction, i.e. increase in sympathetic activity and decrease vagal outflow. In the 19 remainders, HR decreased after an initial increase, with indication of involvement of both sympathetic and vagal outflow. Baseline evaluation of the subjects revealed no difference between the two groups. Nevertheless, a higher sympathetic activity at the skin level during CPT was present in the group with decreased HR. Further studies are needed to explain why healthy subjects react differently to the CPT and if this has potential clinical implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-91
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiological Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Cold pressor test
  • Detrended fluctuation analysis
  • Fractal
  • Heart rate variability
  • Spectral analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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