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  • Lydia Simpson
  • Victoria Meah
    University of Alberta
  • Andrew Steele
    University of Alberta
  • Christopher Gasho
    Loma Linda University
  • Connor Howe
    University of British Columbia, Okanagan
  • Tony Dawkins
    Cardiff Metropolitan University
  • Stephen Busch
    University of Alberta
  • Sam Oliver
  • Gilberto Moralez
    University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center
  • Justin Lawley
    University of Innsbruck
  • MIchael Tymko
    University of Alberta
  • Gustavo Andres Vizcardo-Galindo
    Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia
  • Rómulo Joseph Figueroa-Mujíca
    Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia
  • Francisco Villafuerte
    Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia
  • Philip Ainslie
    University of British Columbia, Okanagan
  • Mike Stembridge
    Cardiff Metropolitan University
  • Craig Steinback
    University of Alberta
  • Jonathan Moore
High‐altitude maladaptation syndrome chronic mountain sickness (CMS) is characterised by excessive erythrocytosis and frequently accompanied by accentuated arterial hypoxaemia. Whether altered autonomic cardiovascular regulation is apparent in CMS is unclear. Therefore, we assessed integrative control of blood pressure (BP) and determined basal sympathetic vasomotor outflow and arterial baroreflex function in 8 Andean natives with CMS ([Hb] 22.6 ± 0.9 g/dL) and 7 healthy highlanders ([Hb] 19.3 ± 0.8 g/dL) at their resident altitude (Cerro de Pasco, Peru; 4383 m). R‐R interval (RRI, electrocardiogram), beat‐by‐beat BP (photoplethysmography) and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA; microneurography) were recorded at rest and during pharmacologically‐induced changes in BP (modified Oxford test). Although [Hb] and blood viscosity (7.8 ± 0.7 vs 6.6 ± 0.7cP; d = 1.7, P = 0.01) were elevated in CMS compared to healthy highlanders, cardiac output, total peripheral resistance and mean BP were similar between groups. The vascular sympathetic baroreflex MSNA set‐point (i.e. MSNA burst incidence) and reflex gain (i.e. responsiveness) were also similar between groups (MSNA set‐point; d = 0.75, P = 0.16, gain; d = 0.2, P = 0.69). In contrast, in CMS the cardiovagal baroreflex operated around a longer RRI (960 ± 159 vs 817 ± 50msec; d = 1.4, P = 0.04) with a greater reflex gain (17.2 ± 6.8 vs 8.8 ± 2.6msec·mmHg−1; d = 1.8, P = 0.01) versus healthy highlanders. Basal sympathetic vasomotor activity was also lower compared to healthy highlanders (33 ± 11 vs 45 ± 13bursts·min−1; d = 1.0, P = 0.08). In conclusion, our findings indicate adaptive differences in basal sympathetic vasomotor activity and heart rate compensate for the haemodynamic consequences of excessive erythrocyte volume and contribute to integrative blood pressure regulation in Andean highlanders with mild CMS.


  • arterial baroreflex, blood pressure control, chronic mountain sickness, excessive erythrocytosis, muscle sympathetic nerve activity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-116
JournalExperimental Physiology
Issue number1
Early online date9 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

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