Cardiorespiratory control during sleep

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Harper RM, Frysinger RC, Marks JD, Zhang JX, and Trelease RB(1988) Cardiorespiratory control during sleep. Ann N Y Acad Sci 533: 368–75.

Link to Article

Abstract: First Paragraph: Any attempt to determine the mechanisms of failure in the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) should consider the role of functional circumstances that appear to accompany fatal episodes. An association of SIDS events with sleep states appears to be one such major circumstance, although that association may be only an approximate, temporal one, with the fatal event occurring during waking following a sleep episode. Knowledge of the association of sleep states with SIDS should direct our attention to those brain mechanisms that are modified by sleep state and might affect respiratory and cardiac control mechanisms. Moreover, even the name of the syndrome indicates that SIDS occurs suddenly; the circumstances of death normally do not include prolonged respiratory failure or signs indicative of life-threatening, prolonged cardiac failure. Thus, one would expect that a cataclysmic event, or a very unique combination of events, perhaps compounded by long-standing conditions, would be associated with death. The combination of circumstances of sleep state and sudden failure would suggest disturbance of central integration mechanisms.



  • Overview of the topic from the point of view of understanding SIDS pathogenesis. Highlights the role of sleep/wake state in modulating descending brainstem influences, differences in voluntary and involuntary descending control systems, and the role of the amygdala.


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