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ABSTRACT:

The autonomous nervous system controls ones heart rate and blood
pressure. This can be affected by gravity, exercise, temperature and
submergence. These factors were all varied and observed in this experiment.
Male and female subjects were then subjected to various tests, each varying
a different variable factor. The results of altering these variables were
recorded and results contrasted between males and females. It is postulated
that these variables alter the heart rate and blood pressure in some
discernible way.
Due to the vast differences in the class data set. Observed results were
anomalous and discernible trends difficult to analyse.

INTRODUCTION:
The autonomous nervous system controls involuntary processes within the
body, such as the heart rate and blood pressure. It is part of the peripheral
nervous system. Due to external pressures from the environment, [gravity or
temperature] or changes in the bodys requirements under stressful
conditions can lead to a change in these processes.
Blood, in our circulatory system, exerts pressure on the walls of the blood
vessels as it traverses through them about the body via systemic circulation.
This pressure can be measured using a sphygmomanometer. The units of
measurement for blood pressure are millimetres of Mercury [mmHg], written
as systolic blood pressure over diastolic blood pressure. Normal blood
pressure is considered to be

120

/80 mmHg.

Within the heart there are 4 chambers, the left and right atrium, and the left
and right ventricle. Blood, on entering the atrium contracts and pushes blood
into the ventricles. The ventricles are larger compared to the atria of the
heart. This pumping action of the heart is known as the cardiac cycle and in
this cycle there are two phases, the systole and the diastole. Systolic
pressure is the pressure received by the arteries from the contraction of the
ventricles during a heartbeat, whereas diastolic pressure is the pressure
exerted by the blood in the arteries in-between heart beats while the muscle
relaxes.
The systolic phase is coincided with contraction of the hear muscles. This
occurs when deoxygenated blood enters the right atrium which contracts,
pushing the blood into the right ventricle. The right ventricle then contracts
to push the deoxygenated blood to the lungs to be oxygenated. The blood
which has been oxygenated then eneters the left atrium which contracts,
forcing the blood into the left ventricle. From the left ventricle, via
contraction the blood is then pushed throughout the body.

Diastolic pressure is the minimal pressure exerted by the blood on the


arteries during relaxation of the ventricles as they fill up with blood
An electrocardiogram [ECG] is a test used which functions by recording the
electrochemical activity of the heart as it beats. The ECG illustrates the
rhythm of the heartbeat, the strength and timing of the electric signals as
they pass through the heart and also how fast the heart is beating.

Figure 1: Example of a Normal ECG (Practical Clinical Skills, 2013)


The ECG gives a chart of peaks which correspond to the different stages of
the cardiac cycle. The P wave symbolizes the atrial depolarization; the PQ
segment represents the atrial systole. The QRS complex shows the
ventricular depolarization whilst the ventricular systole is given by the ST
segment. The T wave illustrates ventricular repolarization.

Figure 2: ECG Waves, Intervals and Segments (Chest, Heart and Stroke
Scotland, 2014)
The pulse pressure is deduced by the stroke volume of the heart, the
expansive ability of the arterial system due to the aorta other large arteries
and the resistance of flow in the arteries. The elasticity of the arteries aid in

the reduction of the blood pressure hence reducing the pulse pressure. .
Pulse pressure is derived from the blood pressure readings. Higher blood
pressure gives rise to a stronger pulse and vice versa. Thus pulse pressure if
proportional to blood pressure.
Pulse Pressure = Diastolic pressure Systolic Pressure
The body responds to vasoconstrictions in the extremities when exposed to
cold stress to maintain the core temperature. This alter blood pressure. This
is tested using the cold pressor test in which the subjects hand is immersed
in ice water for a certain period of time before pulse rate and blood pressure
are measured.
Gravity affects blood flow distribution depending on ones positioning. When
laying down, blood flow is even from the base to the apex i.e. feet to head.
Gravity gives rise to uneven pulmonary blood flow in an upright person. Due
to the downward pull of gravity, a lower blood pressure is seen at the apex of
ones lungs.
Exercising has tendencies to offset the gravitational effects in an upright
person. With exercise, ventilation is increased as the oxygen demands of the
body are greater than before in the resting state. More oxygen is needed to
respire as the body requires more energy. Thus heart rate and blood pressure
rise in order to facilitate the heightened requirements of the body.
When the body is submerged underwater, when one is holding their breath,
the body enters a state of oxygen conservation known as the mammalian
diving reflex. To stimulate this effect, subjects were required to hold their
breath. This affects both the blood pressure and heart rate.
Body mass index [BMI] is utilized to determine how much fat a person has.
This is also in indicator of ones health i.e. if one is underweight, healthy,
overweight or obese.

weight( kilograms)
BMI= height ( metres)2 .
A BMI value of less than 18.5 is considered underweight, 18.5 to 24.9 is
considered normal, 25.0 to 29.9 is considered overweight and values of
over 30 are considered obese (Castro, 2013).
This experiment seeks to gain insight into the effects of the variable factors
of gravity, temperature, submergence and exercise on blood pressure and
pulse by altering each factor one at a time and observing the changes in
data.
METHOD:
The radial pulse of the individual to be tested was taken by feeling their
pulse with the palm facing upward and feeling for the beating sensation with
the index and middle fingers. The number of beats in 15s was recorded and
converted into beats per minute [BPM]. The height and weight of the subject
was also recorded.
The subject was placed in a seated position and the left arm placed upon the
lab bench. The sphygmomanometer was placed on the upper arm ensuring
that the arrow was above the brachial artery. The cuff was inflated until it did
not fall and then with the stethoscope on, the diaphragm placed on the
antecubital space. The cuff was then inflated to 150 mmHg and the valve on
the runner ball opened slightly whilst listening for pressure sounds. The
pressure at which the sounds were detected were recorded the systolic
pressure. The valve was then opened further and the pressure at which the
sounds disappeared taken as the diastolic pressure. These sounds are
referred to as the Korotkoff noises.

The blood pressure and heart rate were then determined while the subject
stood quietly, and after running in place for 1, 3 and 5 minutes. Then with
the subject seated, the resting blood pressure and heart rate were recorded.
The subject then held his/her breath as long as possible. The heart rate was
measured whilst the subject held their breath. Once breathing was resumed,
readings for heart rate and blood pressure were taken at 1 minute intervals
for five minutes.
The subject was then laid back, in a lying position and the heart rate and
blood pressure recorded. This was also done for the subject in a seated
position and a standing position.
With the subject seated comfortably, the heart rate and systolic and diastolic
pressures were recorded. Their free hand was submerged in ice water to a
depth above the wrist. The hand was rapidly removed from the ice bath and
dried. The blood pressure and heart rate were then recorded on the opposite
arm. This was repeated at one minute intervals until the heart rate and blood
pressure returned to control values.
A fully annotated ECG was then done for a male and female subject in the
normal resting state using standard limb leads. Then immersing the palm in
cold water, another ECG was done ensuring the leads did not get wet. The
subjects then underwent vigorous exercise for 5 minutes before producing
another ECG chart.

RESULTS:
Table 1. Summarization of Male individuals tested
MALE
Subjec
t

Height:
Weight
Ratio
cm/kg

BMI

Height/
cm

Weight
/ kg

187

97

1.9

27.7

160

74

2.2

28.9

3
4
5
6

170.4
181
172
194

61
75
65
79

2.8
2.4
2.6
2.5

21.0
22.9
22.0
21.0

195

97

2.0

25.5

174

51

3.4

16.8

176

77.2

2.3

24.9

STATUS

Overweig
ht
Overweig
ht
Normal
Normal
Normal
Normal
Overweig
ht
Underwei
ght
Normal

10

168

62

2.7

22.0

11

182.5

93

2.0

27.9

Normal
Overweig
ht

Table 2. Summarization of Female individuals tested


FEMALE
Subject

Height/
cm

Weight/
kg

Height:
Weight
Ratio cm/kg

1
2
3
4
5

157
156
162
162
149

50
82
56
56
30

3.1
1.9
2.9
2.9
5.0

BMI

STATUS

20.3
33.7
21.3
21.3
13.5

Normal
Overweight
Normal
Normal
Underweight

Table 3. Summary Table of Average Male and Female Blood pressure and Heart Rate
in their respective catergories.

CLASS
INTERVAL

UNDERWEI
GHT
NORMAL
OVERWEIG
HT

AVERA
GE
HEART
RATE

MALE
AVERAGE
BLOOD
PRESSURE
SYSTO DIASTO
LIC
LIC

FEMALE
AVERA
GE
HEART
RATE

AVERAGE BLOOD
PRESSURE
SYSTO
LIC

DIASTO
LIC

64

12

22

96

108

68

65.3

107

74

81.3

111.3

76

81

126.25

90

80

130

105

Resting Systolic Blood Pressure of Males vs Females


140

120

100

80

60

40

20

UNDERWEIGHT

NORMAL
SYSTOLIC MALE

OVERWEIGHT

SYSTOLIC FEMALE

The figure above illustrates the systolic blood pressure of males and females
in the resting state. Both the Normal and Overweight categories are quite
similar with the males being just a slight bit less than the females. With the
underweight category, with males there was only one person which gave a
very low reading which most likely is anomalous. Also being only one
underweight female in the data set, the systolic value read may also be
anomalous.

Resting Diastolic Blood Pressure of Male vs Female


120

100

80

60

40

20

UNDERWEIGHT

NORMAL
DIASTOLIC MALE

OVERWEIGHT

DIASTOLIC FEMALE

The trend in the resting diastolic pressure shows females having higher
values than the males across all categories. Due to the Underweight
category having only one male and female, the readings may be inaccurate.

Average Heart Rate of Male vs Female


120

100

80

60

40

20

UNDERWEIGHT

NORMAL
HR MALE

OVERWEIGHT

HR FEMALE

The resting heart rate of the males and females in the overweight category
are quite similar and almost equal. The underweight and normal categories
of males have almost equal heart rates as well. The females in the
underweight and normal categories however had higher values than the
males.

Eff ect of Exercise on Heart rate in Males


Underweight

Normal

Overweight

140
120
100
80
60
40
20
0

The trend of these results with the effect of exercise on heart rate across the
categories of male subjects in the calls data are quite similar. The heat rate
increases initially during and after exercise before slowly returning back to
the resting state with time. The overweight category followed the trend
however, had a higher heart rate that both the normal and underweight male
categories.

Eff ect of Exercise on Heart Rate in Females


Underweight

Normal

Overweight

160
140
120
100
80
60
40
20
0

With the female categories, similar trends with heart rate were seen as
compared to the males. However, the overweight and underweight
categories had very similar rates of increase and decrease of heart rate with
time with a fast decrease back to resting heart rate. The normal category
however, even though following the general trend, returned to resting heart
rate at a slower rate.

Eff ect of Exercise on Systolic BP [M]


UnderWeight

Normal

Overweight

160
140
120
100
80
60
40
20
0

The systolic pressure across the three categories in males all followed the
same trend. Overweight males showed a higher systolic pressure as compare
to the normal and underweight males. Normal males showed very little
variation in systolic pressure as compared to the underweight and
overweight males with the effect of exercise.

Eff ect of Exercise on Diastolic BP [M]


UnderWeight

Normal

Overweight

120

100

80

60

40

20

All categories here showed the same general trend with regards to the
fluctuations of diastolic pressure with time after exercise. The males which
were classed as normal showed the least fluctuation whilst those who were
underweight showed the most.

Eff ect of Exercise on Systolic BP [F]


Underweight

Normal

Overweight

140
120
100
80
60
40
20
0

All categories of females followed the general trend in change of systolic


pressure with exercise and recovery. However, the overweight category of
females showed the least fluctuation in the systolic pressure and stayed
almost constant throughout the recovery period.

Eff ect of Exercise on Diastolic BP [F]


Underweight

Normal

Overweight

120

100

80

60

40

20

All females in the data set followed the general trend in fluctuation of
diastolic pressure with exercise and recovery time. However, the normal and
underweight categories of females showed the least variation in the diastolic
pressure with exercise and recovery time.

Table 4. ECG Calculations for Male subject


SEX: MALE

Weight: 162 lBS

Height: 182cm

Duration
Activity
Normal
resting
Immediatel
y after
exercise
1 min after
exercise
3 min after
exercise
5 min after
exercise
8 min after
exercise
Immediatel
y after
cold press
1 min after
cold press
3 min after
cold press
5 min after
cold press
8 min after
cold press

P
wave

PRsegme
nt

.06

Amplitude

QRSwave

STsegme
nt

Twave

Heart
rate/bp
m

Pwav
e

QRS

.08

.12

.04

2.0

68

0.5

0.1

---

.08

.08

.04

.04

.16

136

---

0.4

---

.08

.08

.04

.12

.12

125

---

0.3

---

.08

.08

.04

.04

.20

125

---

0.6

---

.06

.12

.04

.04

.12

125

0.2

0.5

---

.04

.08

.04

.08

.12

115

---

0.5

---

.06

.08

.05

.10

.12

125

0.15

0.4

0.3

.04

.08

.04

.08

.18

125

---

0.4

---

.06

.12

.04

.08

.10

107

0.1

0.2

0.3

.04

.12

.04

.08

.12

115

---

0.2

---

.08

.10

.04

.04

.12

107

---

0.2

---

Table 5. ECG Calculations for Female Subject


Sex: Female
Height: 166.5

Weight: 146 lBS


Duration

Activity
Normal
resting
Immediatel
y after
exercise
1 min after
exercise
3 min after
exercise
8 min after
exercise
Immediatel
y after
coldpress
1 min after
coldpress
3 min after
cold press
8 min after
cold press

P
wave

PRsegme
nt

.08

Amplitude

QRSwave

STsegme
nt

Twave

Heart
rate/bp
m

Pwav
e

QRS

.04

.06

.16

.12

83

0.1

0.4

0.2

.04

.06

.04

.16

.12

107

0.1

0.6

0.3

.06

.06

.08

.08

.16

83

0.1

0.5

0.3

.08

.06

.06

.10

.20

79

0.05

0`.5

0.2

.06

.06

.06

.14

.12

.08

.08

.06

.18

.08

68

0.05

0.4

.04

.05

.06

.18

.12

71

0.05

0.5

0.1

.04

.06

.06

.16

.12

78

0.05

0.4

0.1

.06

.08

.04

.16

.10

83

0.05

0.4

0.1

SAMPLE CALCULATIONS:

0.1

Rate of paper= 25mm/s


Distance between interval= 23mm
Duration between interval = 23/25
= 0.92 s
Heart rate = 60/0.92
= 65.2 beats per
minute

0.06s
Duration of QRS wave=2/25
= 0.08s
Duration of ST segment=2.5/25
= 0.10s
Duration of T wave=5/25
= 0.20s

Duration of P wave=3/25
= 0.12s
Duration of PR segment = 1.5/25

10mm = 1mV
1mm = 0.1mV
Therefore the amplitude of the P
wave is = 2 x 0.1
= 0.2mV

The amplitude of the QRS wave is


= 11.5 x 0.1

The amplitude of the T wave is = 3


x 0.1

= 1.15mV

= 0.3mV

DISCUSSION:
The body mass index [BMI] was used on all individuals in this class data set
to determine their general health from their BMI results. This allowed for the
separation of individuals into normal/healthy, underweight, overweight
and obese categories.

Male subjects were contrasted against female

subjects. By utilizing BMI information, the data set was standardized, thus
allowing all data to correlate correctly with each other.
Pulse rate and blood pressure would expectedly be lowest when the
individual was in a laying position as compared to sitting and standing
positions. In the seated position, the hydrostatic influence acts on the carotid
sinus of the heart. The blood pressure and heart rate would also be higher
upon standing as the heart has to work against the force of gravity to pump
blood up towards the head as well as everywhere else in the body.
In all male subjects, in the laying position the heart rate and blood pressure
were lowest. ON sitting up the heart rate increased slightly, and on standing
the heart rate was highest. However the readings on blood pressure for all
on standing were fluctuated from those of the seated position. This is most
likely due to anomalous readings from those taking measurements. Some
blood pressures rose while others dropped. The blood pressure readings
should drop when moved from seated to standing position as standing
upright can lead to 500 700 mL of blood pooling into the legs due to the
forces of gravity. The systolic pressure of the males ranges from 84 140
mmHg. The differences in the values between each category were prevalent.
The lowest blood pressures were seen from the males in the normal
category. These males were deemed healthier than the others according to
the BMI and as such, should have stronger heart able to pump blood more
efficiently. The highest heart rates were seen in the overweight males.

The females showed the lower heart rate to belong to the overweight
category. The healthy females had heart rates which showed no discernible
trend whilst the underweight female had a heart rate which fell within the
range of the healthy females. Having only one overweight and underweight
subject introduced a great deal of difficulty in discerning any trends from the
data. Discerning any trends from the females with regard to blood pressure
with relation to body orientation also proved difficult as values were
scattered.
Exercise raised the heart rate and blood pressure of all individuals who were
tested; however, the responses following the bout of exercise were very
different. The heart rate of healthy males increased rapidly during exercise, a
heart rate (105 beats per minute), and then quickly returned to close to
normal after 5 minutes. A similar situation occurred with respect to the blood
pressure of the healthy males. Their blood pressure increased only slightly
and quickly returned to normal after 5 minutes. The underweight males
heart rate increased more slowly. Their blood pressure also increased slightly
and did not return to normal after 5 minutes. The obese male had a heart
rate which increased rapidly, higher than that of the other males before
returning to normal rate at a much slower rate. The blood pressure of the
obese individual also fluctuated and varied more than both the healthy and
underweight males. This is most likely due to the heart attempting to satiate
the demands of the body.
The healthy females had a similar reaction to the healthy males. Their heart
rate spiked quickly during exercise (from 80.7 BPM to 114 BPM) and then
returned to close to normal at a moderate pace after 5 minutes. The blood
pressure of the healthy females increased slightly, and gradually decreased
as time passed. The underweight and overweight category in females
showed a rapid spike with exercise before returning to close to normal much
faster than that of the healthy females. This most like is due to there being

only one female for the overweight and underweight classes respectively
giving rise to biased data.
Individuals classed as healthy have faster recovery rates due to the
autonomous nervous system being trained to have such a response. It is
assumed that healthier or healthy individuals exercise more often than those
who are overweight or underweight. The parasympathetic nervous system
allows for the slowing of the heart rate and lowering of blood pressure after
exercise. It becomes more efficient due to the outcome of exercise.
When underwater, one must hold ones breath. The body enters a state
known as the mammalian diving reflex. Submergence in this case was
stimulated by the subject simply holding their breath for as long as possible.
From the results for males, no discernible trends were observed with heart
rate or blood pressure. Some individuals had values which remained
constant, and others fluctuated with no discernible reason. The same
fluctuations were seen in females and thus made observing trends difficult.
The mammalian diving reflex stimulates peripheral constriction of the blood
vessels in the outer extremities of the body. This avoids the circulation of
blood to non-vital parts of the body while maximizing the supply of oxygen to
vital organs, such as the brain (Cheng, 2010). This causes the lowering of
heart rate and blood pressure when holding breath which should have been
observed in the data set.
The cold pressor test triggers a vascular sympathetic activation and an
increase in blood pressure in healthy persons. However the heart rate has
high variability from person to person (Mourot, 2007). After the healthy
males removed their hands from the ice water, there was a slight increase in
blood pressure, and then a steady decrease as time progressed. Heart rate
for the individuals fluctuated too greatly to discern any trends. The ECG of
the male corresponded with these results. The underweight males had a very
fluctuating heart rate.

Healthy females had a steady decrease in heart rate and blood pressure,
which started to increase back to normal from the minute after. The
underweight female had a fluctuating heart rate. Her blood pressure
increased a bit and then decreased gradually. The cardiac cycle was most
affected by the cold pressor test, as it caused the most variance in the ECG.
Key sources of error could have been introduced every time blood pressure
was taken. This is subjective as to which point the blood was heard through
the stethoscope i.e. the Korotkoff sounds. Error may have also been
introduced through pulse readings. Also with regards to exercise, the
exercise done by each individual was not standardized and as such some
individuals may have exerted themselves to a greater extent than others.
This experiment may be improved by using a digital sphygmomanometer to
take readings of blood pressure and pulse rate. Also a larger sample size with
equal amounts of individuals in the various BMI classes would allow for less
discrepancy in data collection and give rise to more accurate results. Also
standardization of the exercises by controlling the amount and the intensity
should be implemented to give greater validity to the results.