Use of the photoplethysmographic technique to analyze the Valsalva maneuver in normal man

Muscle Nerve. 1991 Dec;14(12):1165-72. doi: 10.1002/mus.880141204.


We analyzed the Valsalva maneuver (VM) using a photoplethysmographic technique in 24 normal subjects. We studied the effects of test duration (range 5 to 20 seconds) and magnitude of expiratory pressure (EP, range 20 to 50 mmHg) on maximal (% delta) and time integrated (int) changes in heart rate (HR), and mean (MAP) and pulse (PP) pressures during phases II and IV. At all EPs, there was correlation (P less than 0.01) between % delta MAP in both late phase II and phase IV and duration of the VM. The Valsalva ratio (VR) correlated with test duration only at high EPs. All responses, except the fall in MAP in early phase II and bradycardia in phase IV, correlated with EPs. The VR correlate not only with HR responses in phases II and IV but also with MAP and PP overshoot in phase IV. Correlations between maximal AP and HR changes in either phase II and IV were poor. Our study indicates that the photoplethysmographic technique allows a more rational interpretation of the VM in the clinical setting. The VR cannot be adequately interpreted without comcomitant monitoring of arterial pressure during the VM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology
  • Plethysmography / methods
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology
  • Valsalva Maneuver / physiology*