Running induces characteristic fluctuations in blood pressure (BP) of unknown consequence for organ blood flow. We hypothesized that running-induced BP oscillations are transferred to the cerebral vasculature. In 15 healthy volunteers, transcranial Doppler-determined middle cerebral artery (MCA) blood flow velocity, photoplethysmographic finger BP, and step frequency were measured continuously during three consecutive 5-min intervals of treadmill running at increasing running intensities. Data were analysed in the time and frequency domains. BP data for seven subjects and MCA velocity data for eight subjects, respectively, were excluded from analysis because of insufficient signal quality. Running increased mean arterial pressure and mean MCA velocity and induced rhythmic oscillations in BP and in MCA velocity corresponding to the difference between step rate and heart rate (HR) frequencies. During running, rhythmic oscillations in arterial BP induced by interference between HR and step frequency impact on cerebral blood velocity. For the exercise as a whole, average MCA velocity becomes elevated. These results suggest that running not only induces an increase in regional cerebral blood flow but also challenges cerebral autoregulation.
Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 2013, Vol 23, Issue 1