Heart rate and rhythm and intracranial pressure

J. A. Krasney, R. C. Koehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Cardiac slowing during elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) could be due to direct activation of central nervous system (CNS) centers or it may be secondary to baroreceptor reflexes activated by the associated pressor response. In five pentobarbital anesthetized dogs when ICP was raised to 50 mmHg the heart rate decreased 34.4 beats/min (± 4.8 SE). This cardiac slowing occurred when ICP was elevated after sinoaortic denervation (-24 ± 4.43) beats/min and also during elevated ICP when changes in arterial pressure were prevented (-32.3 ± 4.25 beats/min). These results indicate that the cardiac slowing is largely of CNS origin. In dogs given morphine with pentobarbital to achieve slower heart rates, raising ICP to 50 mmHg by left sided intracranial balloon inflation led to cardiac dysrhythmias in 9 of 12 dogs. By contrast, raising ICP to 50 mmHg by right sided intracranial balloon inflation only produced progressive sinus bradycardia. These responses were related to a combined enhancement of vagal and sympathetic activity. Differences observed between right and left sided balloon inflation may be partly related to asymmetrical engagement of the cardiac autonomic nerves. The results suggest that left sided intracranial lesions are more likely to produce cardiac dysrhythmias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1695-1700
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1976
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)


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