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Effects of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation in Autonomic Nervous System of Hypertensive Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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Background: Patients with hypertension have altered autonomic nervous system function, which are increased sympathetic activity. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a useful modality for pain control and has also been shown to be effective in the reduction of sympathetic activity in healthy subjects and individuals with cardiovascular diseases.

Objective: The aim of this study was to verify the effects of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation by the evaluation of heart rate variability (HRV) in patients with essential hypertension.

Method: Twenty-eight patients received an application of low-frequency TENS(4 Hz) n=8, highfrequency TENS (100 Hz) n=10 or placebo TENS n=10 in paravertebral ganglionar region during thirty minutes.

Results: After 4 Hz TENS, there was a decrease in the low-frequency (LFn.u.) component (57.71±9.46 vs 45.58±13.51, p<0.026) and an increase in the high-frequency (HFn.u.) component (33.03±13.83 vs 45.83±20.19, p <0.05) of HRV. After 100 Hz TENS and placebo, there were no changes in the LF and HF components. No significant differences were found in systolic blood pressure with low-frequency TENS (129.37± 15.48 vs 126.69 ± 15.21, p<0.490). There was an increase, although not significant, with high-frequency TENS (131.00 ± 15.97 vs 138.75 ± 25.79, p<0.121) and placebo (133.80 ± 29.85 vs 134.80 ± 29.72, p< 0.800). No differences were found in the diastolic blood pressure with low-frequency TENS and placebo, but there was a significant increase in high-frequency TENS (81.00 ± 11.78 vs 85.65 ± 13.68, p< 0.018).

Conclusion: Low-frequency TENS decreases sympathetic nervous system activity and increases parasympathetic nervous system activity and high-frequency TENS increases diastolic blood pressure, when applied on the paravertebral ganglionar region in the hypertensive patients.
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Keywords: Hypertension; autonomic nervous system; heart rate variability; parasympathetic nervous system; sympathetic nervous system; transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2018

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  • Current Hypertension Reviews publishes frontier reviews on all the latest advances on hypertension and its related areas e.g. nephrology, clinical care, and therapy. The journal's aim is to publish the highest quality review articles dedicated to clinical research in the field. The journal is essential reading for all clinicians and researchers in the field of hypertension.
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