Acute cardiovascular autonomic responses to inhaled particulates

Joyce M. Evans, Roger A. Jenkins, Ralph H. Ilgner, Charles F. Knapp, Qingguang Zhang, Abhijit R. Patwardhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Conclusions: When measured under controlled conditions, autonomic activities in non-smoking men and women exposed to low level, short term, particulate concentrations were similar to those observed during longer term, higher level exposures to ETS and to direct smoking. These increased indexes of sympathetic control of heart rate and peripheral vasomotion followed introduction of particulates by about 15 min. Finally, coupling of heart rate and systolic pressure indicated an increase in baroreflex activity in the response to breathing ETS that was less effective in men than women.

Purpose: Harmful effects of inhaled particulates have been established in epidemiologic studies of ambient air pollution. In particular, heart rate variability responses to high levels of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), similar to responses observed during direct smoking, have been reported. We sought to determine whether such responses could be observed at lower particulate concentrations.

Methods: We monitored cardiovascular responses of non-smoking 21 women and 19 men to work-place-relevant levels of: ETS, cooking oil fumes (Coil), wood smoke (WS), and water vapor as sham control. Responses, tested on three consecutive days (random order of aerosol presentation), were averaged for each subject.

Results: Low frequency spectral powers of heart rate and blood pressure rose during recovery from exposure to particulate, but not to sham exposures. At breathing frequencies, spectral power of men’s systolic pressure doubled, and baroreflex effectiveness increased, following ETS exposure. An index of sympathetic control of heart rate was more pronounced in men than women, in response to ETS and Coil, compared to WS and sham.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-268
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Autonomic control
  • Baroreflex
  • Blood pressure variability
  • Cooking oil
  • ETS
  • Gender
  • Heart rate variability
  • Wood smoke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)


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