BACKGROUND: Cardiovascular (baroreflex) and respiratory (chemoreflex) control mechanisms were studied separately in diabetes, but their reciprocal interaction (well known for diseases like heart failure) had never been comprehensively assessed. We hypothesized that prevalent autonomic neuropathy would depress both reflexes, whereas prevalent autonomic imbalance through sympathetic activation would depress the baroreflex but enhance the chemoreflexes.
METHODS: In 46 type-1 diabetic subjects (7.0±0.9year duration) and 103 age-matched controls we measured the baroreflex (average of 7 methods), and the chemoreflexes, (hypercapnic: ventilation/carbon dioxide slope during hyperoxic progressive hypercapnia; hypoxic: ventilation/oxygen saturation slope during normocapnic progressive hypoxia). Autonomic dysfunction was evaluated by cardiovascular reflex tests.
RESULTS: Resting oxygen saturation and baroreflex sensitivity were reduced in the diabetic group, whereas the hypercapnic chemoreflex was significantly increased in the entire diabetic group. Despite lower oxygen saturation the hypoxic chemoreflex showed a trend toward a depression in the diabetic group.
CONCLUSION: Cardio-respiratory control imbalance is a common finding in early type 1 diabetes. A reduced sensitivity to hypoxia seems a primary factor leading to reflex sympathetic activation (enhanced hypercapnic chemoreflex and baroreflex depression), hence suggesting a functional origin of cardio-respiratory control imbalance in initial diabetes.
- Journal Article