The effects of different cardiovascular devices on carotid and aortic baroreceptors
Harmon, Kelly Erin
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The baroreflex is a well-studied physiological mechanism that provides instantaneous nerve impulses to higher brain centers about fluctuations in blood pressure. Located within the aortic arch and carotid sinuses, the baroreceptors are mechanosensitive stretch receptors activated by physical distention. When stretched by elevated blood pressure, the baroreflex is activated and serves to reduce sympathetic nerve activity through increased parasympathetic nerve output, ultimately reducing heart rate, contractility and total vascular peripheral resistance. Therefore, through physical perturbation, the baroreflex can be activated and ensuing physiological changes result. Several medical devices have been developed to treat and manage cardiovascular diseases that are affected by blood pressure dysregulation. A significant portion of devices have their mechanistic application at locations at or near the aortic and carotid baroreceptors, which results in alterations of baroreflex activation. This literature review serves to highlight three clinically important cardiovascular devices and the effects they have on the baroreflex through a summarized review of published work in the scientific community. Intra-aortic balloon pumps, left ventricular assist devices and carotid sinus stimulators are cardiovascular devices that have shown promising development and clinical impact since each devices’ initial application in research trials. Each device has been thoroughly reviewed here and the impact that each device has on blood pressure regulation has been investigated via available published work. Results from a limited number of studies have shown that each device has a definite effect on baroreflex activation and subsequent changes in autonomic nervous system function. Modifications in blood pressure through device use appear to be a potential therapeutic approach to managing pathophysiological states, including hypertension and heart failure. Hypertension and heart failure will be discussed in greater detail, reviewing current approaches to disease management and care. The results from the available publications surrounding device use are specific to certain diseases, however, they are also quite generalizable in the sense that these results have shown an overall true effect on blood pressure modification by the baroreflex. Conclusions established from this literature review are that although promising work has been recognized through studying these cardiovascular devices and their effects on blood pressure regulation, much research and development is still needed in order to gain a better understanding of device use and impact in the clinical setting.