Effect of age and gender on sudomotor and cardiovagal function and blood pressure response to tilt in normal subjects

Muscle Nerve. 1997 Dec;20(12):1561-8. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-4598(199712)20:12<1561::aid-mus11>3.0.co;2-3.


Normative data are limited on autonomic function tests, especially beyond age 60 years. We therefore evaluated these tests in a total of 557 normal subjects evenly distributed by age and gender from 10 to 83 years. Heart rate (HR) response to deep breathing fell with increasing age. Valsalva ratio varied with both age and gender. QSART (quantitative sudomotor axon-reflex test) volume was consistently greater in men (approximately double) and progressively declined with age for all three lower extremity sites but not the forearm site. Orthostatic blood pressure reduction was greater with increasing age. HR at rest was significantly higher in women, and the increment with head-up tilt fell with increasing age. For no tests did we find a regression to zero, and some tests seem to level off with increasing age, indicating that diagnosis of autonomic failure was possible to over 80 years of age.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Heart Conduction System / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Sweat Glands / physiology*
  • Tilt-Table Test*
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology*