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Assessment of effects of differences in trunk posture during Fowler’s position on hemodynamics and cardiovascular regulation in older and younger subjects

Authors Kubota S, Endo Y, Kubota M, Shigemasa T

Received 14 January 2017

Accepted for publication 23 February 2017

Published 29 March 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 603—610

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S132399

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker


Satoshi Kubota,1 Yutaka Endo,1 Mitsue Kubota,1 Tomohiko Shigemasa2

1School of Nursing and Rehabilitation Sciences at Odawara, International University of Health and Welfare, Odawara, Kanagawa, Japan; 2Department of Cardiology, International University of Health and Welfare Atami Hospital, Atami, Shizuoka, Japan

Background: Downward shifts in blood volume with changing position generally cause tachycardic responses. Age-related decreases in vagal nerve activity could contribute to orthostatic hypotension in older individuals. Fowler’s position is a reclined position with the back between 30° and 60°, used to facilitate breathing, eating, and other routine daily activities in frail and elderly patients.
Objective: This study examined whether stroke volume (SV) was higher and heart rate (HR) lower in Fowler’s position with an upright upper trunk than in Fowler’s position with the whole trunk upright in both older and younger subjects, based on the assumption that lower HR would result from reduced sympathetic activation in older individuals.
Methods: We assessed hemodynamics and HR variability from electrocardiography, noninvasive arterial pressure and impedance cardiography in 11 younger male subjects (age range, 20–22 years) and 11 older male subjects (age range, 64–79 years), using three positions: supine, or Fowler’s positions with either 30° of lower trunk inclination and 60° of upper trunk inclination (UT60) or 60° of whole trunk inclination (WT60). Comparisons were then made between age groups and between positions.
Results: Reductions in SV and tachycardic response were smaller with UT60 than with WT60, in both younger and older subjects. In addition, reduced tachycardic response with upright upper trunk appeared attributable to decreased vagal withdrawal in younger subjects and to reduced sympathetic activation in older subjects.
Conclusion: Our findings indicate that an upright upper trunk during Fowler’s position allowed maintenance of SV and inhibited tachycardic response compared to an upright whole trunk regardless of age, although the autonomic mechanisms underlying tachycardic responses differed between younger and older adults. An upright upper trunk in Fowler’s position might help to reduce orthostatic stress and facilitate routine activities and conversation in frail patients.

Keywords: aging, cardiovascular regulation, hemodynamics, Fowler’s position, stroke volume

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