Retarding effect of lowered heart rate on coronary atherosclerosis

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Science  12 Oct 1984:
Vol. 226, Issue 4671, pp. 180-182
DOI: 10.1126/science.6484569


The role of heart rate in the development of coronary atherosclerosis was assessed in adult male cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis). Heart rate was lowered in six animals by surgical ablation of the sinoatrial node. A sham procedure, which included all of the surgical steps except for sinoatrial node ablation, was carried out in eight animals. All of the monkeys were fed an atherogenic high cholesterol diet for 6 months, and heart rates were monitored repeatedly by telemetry during 24-hour test periods. Coronary atherosclerosis in animals with postoperative heart rates less than the preoperative mean for all of the animals that underwent surgery was less than half that of animals with heart rates above the mean or of diet-fed control animals not subjected to surgery. Groups did not differ in blood pressure, serum lipids, or body weight. These results suggest that heart rate in itself may contribute to the mechanisms by which behavioral patterns and physical training influence coronary artery disease.

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