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Ageing of the couplings between cardiac, respiratory and myogenic activity in humans

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Abstract

The balance and functionality of the cardiovascular system are maintained by a network of couplings between the different oscillations involved. We study the effect of ageing on these interactions through the application of wavelet analysis, and by the use of dynamical Bayesian inference to compute coupling functions. The method, applied to phases extracted from microvascular flow recorded by laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF), reveals the coupling functions between oscillations propagated to the smallest vessels. Consistent with earlier work based on analysis of cardiac and respiratory phases obtained from direct measurements, our analysis demonstrates an impairment of the propagated cardio-respiratory coupling with ageing. The coupling weakens despite the increased cardiac component in the LDF with ageing. Our results bring new insight to the effect of ageing on cardiovascular regulation that might help improve the diagnostic potential of LDF monitors.