Cardiovascular responses to apneic facial immersion during altered cardiac filling

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2003 Jun;94(6):2249-54. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01140.2002. Epub 2003 Feb 21.


The hypothesis that reduced cardiac filling, as a result of lower body negative pressure (LBNP) and postexercise hypotension (PEH), would attenuate the reflex changes to heart rate (HR), skin blood flow (SkBF), and mean arterial pressure (MAP) normally induced by facial immersion was tested. The purpose of this study was to investigate the cardiovascular control mechanisms associated with apneic facial immersion during different cardiovascular challenges. Six subjects randomly performed 30-s apneic facial immersions in 6.0 +/- 1.2 degrees C water under the following conditions: 1) -20 mmHg LBNP, 2) +40 mmHg lower body positive pressure (LBPP), 3) during a period of PEH, and 4) normal resting (control). Measurements included SkBF at one acral (distal phalanx of the thumb) and one nonacral region of skin (ventral forearm), HR, and MAP. Facial immersion reduced HR and SkBF at both sites and increased MAP under all conditions (P < 0.05). Reduced cardiac filling during LBNP and PEH significantly attenuated the absolute HR nadir observed during the control immersion (P < 0.05). The LBPP condition did not result in a lower HR nadir than control but did result in a nadir significantly lower than that of the LBNP and PEH conditions (P < 0.05). No differences were observed in either SkBF or MAP between conditions; however, the magnitude of SkBF reduction was greater at the acral site than at the nonacral site for all conditions (P < 0.05). These results suggest that the cardiac parasympathetic response during facial immersion can be attenuated when cardiac filling is compromised.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Coronary Circulation / physiology*
  • Diving / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Face*
  • Humans
  • Hypotension / etiology
  • Hypotension / physiopathology
  • Immersion*
  • Lower Body Negative Pressure
  • Male
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / physiology
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Respiratory Mechanics*
  • Rest
  • Skin / blood supply