Power spectrum analysis of heart rate fluctuations provides a quantitative noninvasive means of assessing the functioning of the short-term cardiovascular control systems. We show that sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous activity make frequency-specific contributions to the heart rate power spectrum, and that renin-angiotensin system activity strongly modulates the amplitude of the spectral peak located at 0.04 hertz. Our data therefore provide evidence that the renin-angiotensin system plays a significant role in short-term cardiovascular control in the time scale of seconds to minutes.

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