Effect of age on complexity and causality of the cardiovascular control: Comparison between model-based and model-free approaches

Alberto Porta, Luca Faes, Vlasta Bari, Andrea Marchi, Tito Bassani, Giandomenico Nollo, Natália Maria Perseguini, Juliana Milan, Vinícius Minatel, Audrey Borghi-Silva, Anielle C M Takahashi, Aparecida M. Catai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The proposed approach evaluates complexity of the cardiovascular control and causality among cardiovascular regulatory mechanisms from spontaneous variability of heart period (HP), systolic arterial pressure (SAP) and respiration (RESP). It relies on construction of a multivariate embedding space, optimization of the embedding dimension and a procedure allowing the selection of the components most suitable to form the multivariate embedding space. Moreover, it allows the comparison between linear model-based (MB) and nonlinear model-free (MF) techniques and between MF approaches exploiting local predictability (LP) and conditional entropy (CE). The framework was applied to study age-related modifications of complexity and causality in healthy humans in supine resting (REST) and during standing (STAND). We found that: 1) MF approaches are more efficient than the MB method when nonlinear components are present, while the reverse situation holds in presence of high dimensional embedding spaces; 2) the CE method is the least powerful in detecting age-related trends; 3) the association of HP complexity on age suggests an impairment of cardiac regulation and response to STAND; 4) the relation of SAP complexity on age indicates a gradual increase of sympathetic activity and a reduced responsiveness of vasomotor control to STAND; 5) the association from SAP to HP on age during STAND reveals a progressive inefficiency of baroreflex; 6) the reduced connection from HP to SAP with age might be linked to the progressive exploitation of Frank-Starling mechanism at REST and to the progressive increase of peripheral resistances during STAND; 7) at REST the diminished association from RESP to HP with age suggests a vagal withdrawal and a gradual uncoupling between respiratory activity and heart; 8) the weakened connection from RESP to SAP with age might be related to the progressive increase of left ventricular thickness and vascular stiffness and to the gradual decrease of respiratory sinus arrhythmia.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere89463
JournalPLoS One
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 24 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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