1. We tested the ‘muscle‐heart reflex’ hypothesis for the immediate increases in heart rate and blood pressure at the onset of static exercise in man by performing complete blockade of afferent nerves from the working muscles. Brief (5 s) maximal static hand‐grip contractions were performed without performing a Valsalva‐like manoeuvre and with no increase in central venous pressure both before and after combined axillary and radial blockade with lidocaine. Muscle strength was reduced to near zero. The effectiveness of the afferent neural blockade was evaluated by recording the heart rate and blood pressure responses and rating the perceived pain during a cold pressor test of the blocked and contralateral unblocked hand. 2. The cold pressor test increased blood pressure but had no effect on heart rate. Afferent neural blockade eliminated the increase in blood pressure and the perceived pain associated with the cold pressor test. Maximal hand‐grip contractions resulted in immediate and similar increases in heart rate and blood pressure before and after afferent neural blockade of the arm. 3. The results of this study suggest that the immediate increases in heart rate and blood pressure at the onset of static exercise in man occur when the ‘muscle‐heart reflex’ is inoperable.
ASJC Scopus subject areas