This study compares the autonomic responses of 9 adolescents (mean ± SEM: 17±1 years) successfully operated for tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) in early childhood and 8 age-matched healthy controls (CTRL) using R-R and blood pressure variability. Continuous ECG and BP recordings were obtained during spontaneous and controlled respiration (CR) at 0.20 Hz as well as after an 85° head-up tilt (HUT) and during steady-state cycling at heart rates of 100 and 120 bpm, selected to reflect partial and complete cardiac vagal withdrawal. TOF exhibited total R-R variance and HF power (ms2) lower than CTRL under both spontaneous (938 ± 322 vs. 1,714 ± 296) and CR (1,541 ± 527 vs. 4,725 ± 1,207; p < .05), which may be indicative of a lower cardiac vagal activity. HUT decreased the R-R HF component, which remained lower in TOF than CTRL and increased the diastolic BP LF component in TOF but not in CTRL. Exercise decreased the R-R HF power more in TOF than CTRL. The exaggerated diastolic BP and limited heart rate responses to tilting and the more marked vagal withdrawal at Ex120 in TOF may be suggestive of a disturbance in the cardiac sympathetic response. Further studies are needed to confirm these observations on larger groups of young adults successfully operated for TOF.
H. Perrault and M. Tzovanis are with the Physical Education Department at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2W 1S4. D. Johnson, A. Davignon, and C. Chartrand are with the Cardiology Unit, Hôpital Ste-Justine, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3T 1C5. A. Mokrane and R.A. Nadeau are with the Research Center, Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur, 5400 boul. Gouin ouest, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H4J-1C5.