Cardiorespiratory dynamics during transitions between mechanical and spontaneous ventilation in intensive care

Anton Burykin, Timothy G. Buchman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Life support devices (e.g., heart pacemakers, ventilators, dialysis machines) are commonly thought to affect mainly their target organ system. This preliminary study attempts to determine the extent to which mechanical support of one organ system (lungs by mechanical ventilator) affects functions of other systems (heart and blood vessels). We studied changes in cardiorespiratory interactions and in dynamics of cardiovascular system during scheduled transitions (spontaneous breathing trials, SBT) between mechanical and spontaneous ventilation in critically ill patients. This initial study population consisted of 13 patients admitted to a surgical intensive care unit (ICU) following surgery, trauma, or complications who were judged candidates for liberation from the ventilator. We collected continuous respiratory, cardiac (ECG), and perfusion (blood pressure and pulse oximetry) signals of mechanically ventilated patients before, during, and after SBT. The data were analyzed using spectral analysis, phase dynamics, and entropy measures. We found that the mechanical ventilation not only drives lung dynamics but also affects the dynamics of cardiac and vascular systems. Spontaneous cardiovascular rhythms are entrained by the mechanical ventilator and are drawn into synchrony. Sudden interruption of mechanical ventilation typically leads to rapid desynchronization. This synchronization is restored upon reinstitution of mechanical ventilation. The initial data suggest that therapies intended to support one organ system may propagate unanticipated effects to other organ systems. Moreover, sustained therapies may disturb mechanisms that promote natural synchronization and variability and thereby adversely affect recovery of normal organ system interactions. We suggest that new measures and displays of synchronization not only could provide insight into the organorgan coupling but also could yield information to optimize the function of devices used to support the critically ill patient.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-59
Number of pages20
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiopulmonary interaction
  • Homeostasis
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Physiologic variability
  • Synchronization


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