Volume 56 (2006) Issue 1 Pages 45-65
The Valsalva maneuver is a frequently used physiological test in evaluating the cardiovascular autonomic functions in human. Although a large pool of experimental data has provided substantial insights into different aspects of the mechanisms underlying the cardiovascular regulations during the Valsalva maneuver, so far a complete comprehension of these mechanisms and the interactions among them is unavailable. In the present study, a computational model of the cardiovascular system (CVS) and its interaction with the autonomic nervous system (ANS) was developed for the purpose of quantifying the individual roles of the CVS and the ANS in the hemodynamic regulations during the Valsalva maneuver. A detailed computational compartmental parameter model of the global CVS, a system of mathematical equations representing the autonomic nervous reflex regulatory functions, and an empirical cerebral autoregulation (CA) model formed the main body of the present model. Based on simulations of the Valsalva maneuvers at several typical postures, it was demonstrated that hemodynamic responses to the maneuver were not only determined by the ANS-mediated cardiovascular regulations, but also significantly affected by the postural-change-induced hemodynamic alterations preceding the maneuver. Moreover, the large-magnitude overshoot in cerebral perfusion immediately after the Valsalva maneuver was found to result from a combined effect of the circulatory autonomic functions, the CA, and the cerebral venous blood pressure.