Effects of glucose ingestion on autonomic and cardiovascular measures during rest and mental challenge

S.J. Synowski, W.J. Kop, Z.S. Warwick, S.R. Waldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


High levels of dietary sugar consumption may result in dysregulated glucose metabolism and lead to elevated cardiovascular disease risk via autonomic nervous system and cardiovascular dysfunction. Altered cardiovascular function can be examined using perturbation tasks such as mental challenge. This study examined the effects of controlled glucose intake on cardiovascular measures at rest and in responses to mental challenge in a laboratory setting.
Using a double blind within-subjects design, participants were monitored at baseline, following ingestion of a glucose or taste-control solution, during structured speech (SS), anger recall (AR) and recovery (N = 24, 288 repeated measures; age = 21 ± 2 years). Pre-ejection period (PEP), heart rate (HR), stroke index (SI), cardiac index (CI), blood pressure and total peripheral resistance (TPR) were measured throughout the protocol.
Glucose resulted in sustained decreased PEP levels compared to control condition (Δ = 11.98 ± 9.52 vs. 3.27 ± 7.65 m·s, P < .001) and transient increases in resting HR (P = .011), CI (P = .040) and systolic blood pressure (P = .009). Glucose did not result in increased cardiovascular reactivity to mental challenge tasks, but was associated with a delayed HR recovery following AR (P = .032).
Glucose intake resulted in a drop in PEP indicating increased sympathetic nervous system activity. No evidence was found for glucose-related exaggerated cardiovascular responses to mental challenge. Dysregulated glucose metabolism may result in elevated cardiovascular disease risk as a result of repeated glucose-induced elevations of sympathetic nervous system activity.
Keywords: Glucose, Carbohydrate, Mental challenge, Cardiovascular reactivity, Cardiovascular recovery, Psychological distress
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-154
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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