This chapter discusses the cardiovascular responses induced by muscular contraction and neural control of the cardiovascular response to muscular contraction. Neurally mediated cardiovascular adjustments during exercise are brought about by two general mechanisms: (1) a central neural driven in which the cardiovascular and motor systems are driven in parallel, often called “central command”, and (2) a reflex initiated by activity in the contracting muscles, which then activates the cardiovascular control system. One convenient animal model that allows the study of the reflex mechanism utilizes the electrical stimulation of ventral roots to elicit muscular contraction, which, in turn, evokes increases in heart rate and blood pressure, appropriate changes in the pattern of blood flow, and increases in ventilation. Both the rostral ventrolateral medulla and caudal ventrolateral medulla exhibit characteristics that are consistent with a role for these areas in the mediation of pressor response evoked by muscular contraction.
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