Autonomic Modulation by Electrical Stimulation of the Parasympathetic Nervous System: An Emerging Intervention for Cardiovascular Diseases

Cardiovasc Ther. 2016 Jun;34(3):167-71. doi: 10.1111/1755-5922.12179.


The cardiac autonomic nervous system has been known to play an important role in the development and progression of cardiovascular diseases. Autonomic modulation by electrical stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which increases the parasympathetic activity and suppresses the sympathetic activity, is emerging as a therapeutic strategy for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Here, we review the recent literature on autonomic modulation by electrical stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, including vagus nerve stimulation, transcutaneous auricular vagal stimulation, spinal cord stimulation, and ganglionated plexi stimulation, in the treatment of heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and ventricular arrhythmias.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Autonomic modulation; Autonomic nervous system; Heart failure; Ventricular arrhythmias.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / diagnosis
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / therapy*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / diagnosis
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / therapy
  • Ganglia, Parasympathetic / physiopathology
  • Heart / innervation*
  • Heart Failure / diagnosis
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / physiopathology*
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vagus Nerve Stimulation*