Objectives: The role of the baroreflex function in the pathogenesis of hemodialysis-associated hypotension is controversial. Complex demodulation technique (CDM), providing continuous assessment of the amplitude of cardiovascular oscillation over time, is particularly suitable to assess dynamic changes in autonomic nervous system and baroreceptor sensitivity (BRS) during dialysis. In the present study, CDM was used to determine the effects of dialysis treatment on BRS and to characterize BRS changes during acute intradialytic hypotension.
Methods: Continuous beat-to-beat blood pressure and interbeat intervals (IBIs) were monitored in 93 chronic patients without (n = 70) and with (n = 26) hypotension during 96 dialysis sessions. The amplitudes of SBP and DBP, IBIs, and BRS change in the low-frequency (around center frequency of 0.09 Hz) and high-frequency (around center frequency of 0.30 Hz) ranges were followed during the whole dialysis session.
Results: Hemodialysis treatment was associated with increased low-frequency BRS, especially in sessions without hypotension. Hypotensive episodes were associated with significant increases in both low-frequency BRS and high-frequency BRS, mainly in patients with severe hypotension. The magnitude of the increase in baroreflex indices was proportional to the decrease in blood pressure. Low-frequency IBI/high-frequency IBI ratio, a marker of sympatho-vagal balance, did not significantly change during hypotension.
Conclusion: Our study shows that the baroreflex mechanism is preserved and adequately activated during intradialytic hypotension. Other factors, such as ischemic heart disease, left ventricular dysfunction, and inadequate arteriolar tone, rather than failure of baroreflex function, are more likely to be responsible for dialysis-induced hypotension.