This article reviews evidence that the reflex control of the cardiovascular system provided by negative feedback mechanisms is impaired in congestive heart failure (CHF). The impairment involves vagal and sympathetic modulation of the heart exerted by arterial baroreceptors. It also affects baroreceptor control of blood pressure and peripheral vascular resistance, as well as the cardiopulmonary receptor's ability to modulate sympathetic activity. The degree of such impairment is most marked in severe CHF but is also apparent, to a minor degree, in mild heart failure. Reflex impairment is due to a reduction in the receptor signal, but other factors under investigation are probably also involved. Digoxin and other pharmacologic treatments of CHF improve reflex function, thereby facilitating a reduction in the elevated sympathetic activity and a stepping up of the reduced vagal activity typical of CHF. This may be relevant to a patient's prognosis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine