Autonomic effects of nicotine patch administration in habitual cigarette smokers: A double-blind, placebo-controlled study using spectral analysis of RR interval and systolic arterial pressure variabilities

Daniela Lucini, Federico Bertocchi, Alberto Malliani, Massimo Pagani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Nicotine patch administration is often used to sustain tobacco abstinence in smoking-cessation programs. There is some concern regarding safety issues, as a consequence of the sympathomimetic action of nicotine. We used spectral analysis of RR interval and (noninvasive) systolic arterial pressure (SAP) beat-by-beat variabilities in a crossover double-blind design to assess the autonomic effects of cigarette smoking, of transdermal nicotine, and of placebo. The study group consisted of 27 heavy smokers (age 43 ± 2 years). The RR interval and its variability were significantly reduced in the smoking group, as compared with nicotine or placebo groups. The LF component of RR interval variability (in normalized units, nu), and the LF/HF ratio showed greatest values during smoking, as compared with placebo. Values of LF(RR) and LF/HF during nicotine patch treatment were slightly, but not significantly, greater than observed with placebo. No differences were observed in SAP and its variability components. The index α (a frequency domain measure of baroreflex gain) was minimal in the smoking period. Habitual cigarette smoking is associated with signs of sympathetic predominance in the autonomic control of the sinoatrial (SA) node. Nicotine patches produce only minor disturbances of autonomic regulation. This corroborates their safe use in smoking-cessation strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)714-720
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1998



  • Autonomic
  • Nervous system
  • Prevention
  • Risk factors
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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