In a new study published in Diabetes, researchers examined the effects of hypoglycemia on cardiovascular autonomic control and found that there is a clear change in the body’s responses to cardiovascular stress. 

Earlier studies have shown a link between hypoglycemia and increased mortality, suggesting the possibility that hypoglycemia may have negative cardiovascular effects. Ajay D. Rao, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, and colleagues conducted a study to evaluate the acute effects of hypoglycemia on cardiovascular autonomic control. 

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Healthy volunteers (n=17) were exposed to experimental hypoglycemia (2.8mmol/L) for 120 minutes. Researchers assessed cardiac vagal baroflex function prior to initiation of the hypoglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp protocol, and during the final 30 minutes of hypoglycemia

During hypoglycemia, baroflex sensitivity decreased significantly (19.2±7.5 vs. 32.9±16.6msec/mmHg; P<0.005), systolic blood pressure threshold for baroflex activation increased significantly (120±14 vs. 112±12mmHg; P<0.005),  maximum respiratory rate interval response (1088±132 vs. 196±194ms; P<0.001), and maximal range of respiratory rate interval response decreased significantly (414±128 vs. 817±183ms; P<0.001). 

Study authors concluded that reduced vagal control and impaired cardiovascular homeostasis was apparent during episodes of hypoglycemia. 

“These findings suggest a specific way as to how the cardiovascular system is compromised during episodes of hypoglycemia,” said Dr. Rao.

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