Skip to Main Content
Linear analyses of fluctuations in heart rate and other hemodynamic variables have been used to elucidate cardiovascular regulatory mechanisms. The role of nonlinear contributions to fluctuations in hemodynamic variables has not been fully explored. This paper presents a nonlinear system analysis of the effect of fluctuations in instantaneous lung volume (ILV) and arterial blood pressure (ABP) on heart rate (HR) fluctuations. To successfully employ a nonlinear analysis based on the Laguerre expansion technique (LET), we introduce an efficient procedure for broadening the spectral content of the ILV and ABP inputs to the model by adding white noise. Results from computer simulations demonstrate the effectiveness of broadening the spectral band of input signals to obtain consistent and stable kernel estimates with the use of the LET. Without broadening the band of the ILV and ABP inputs, the LET did not provide stable kernel estimates. Moreover, we extend the LET to the case of multiple inputs in order to accommodate the analysis of the combined effect of ILV and ABP effect on heart rate. Analyses of data based on the second-order Volterra-Wiener model reveal an important contribution of the second-order kernels to the description of the effect of lung volume and arterial blood pressure on heart rate. Furthermore, physiological effects of the autonomic blocking agents propranolol and atropine on changes in the first- and second-order kernels are also discussed.