1. A new method was developed to evaluate cardiac baroreflex sensitivity. The association of a high systolic blood pressure with a low heart rate or the converse is considered to be under the influence of cardiac baroreflex activity. This method is based on the determination of the statistical dependence between systolic blood pressure and heart rate values obtained non-invasively by a Finapres device. Our computerized analysis selects the associations with the highest statistical dependence. A ‘Z-coefficient’ quantifies the strength of the statistical dependence. The slope of the linear regression, computed on these selected associations, is used to estimate baroreflex sensitivity.
2. The present study was carried out in 11 healthy resting male subjects. The results obtained by the ‘Z-coefficient’ method were compared with those obtained by cross-spectrum analysis, which has already been validated in humans. Furthermore, the reproducibility of both methods was checked after 1 week.
3. The results obtained by the two methods were significantly correlated (r = 0.78 for the first and r = 0.76 for the second experiment, P < 0.01). When repeated after 1 week, the average results were not significantly different. Considering individual results, test—retest correlation coefficients were higher with the Z-analysis (r = 0.79, P < 0.01) than with the cross-spectrum analysis (r = 0.61, P < 0.05).
4. In conclusion, as the Z-method gives results similar to but more reproducible than the cross-spectrum method, it might be a powerful and reliable tool to assess baroreflex sensitivity in humans.