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Orthostatic intolerance after acute mild hypovolemia: incidence, pathophysiologic hemodynamics, and heart-rate variability analysis-a prospective observational cohort study.

PURPOSE: Early postoperative mobilization can be hindered by orthostatic intolerance (OI). Postoperative OI has multifactorial pathogenesis, possibly involving both postoperative hypovolemia and autonomic dysfunction. We aimed to investigate the effect of mild acute blood loss from blood donation simulating postoperative hypovolemia, on both autonomic function and OI, thus eliminating confounding perioperative factors such as inflammation, residual anesthesia, pain, and opioids.

METHODS: This prospective observational cohort study included 26 blood donors. Continuous electrocardiogram data were collected during mobilization and night sleep, both before and after blood donation. A Valsalva maneuver and a standardized mobilization procedure were performed immediately before and after blood donation, during which cardiovascular and tissue oxygenation variables were continuously measured by LiDCOrapid™ and Massimo Root™, respectively. The incidence of OI, hemodynamic responses during mobilization and Valsalva maneuver, as well as heart rate variability (HRV) responses during mobilization and sleep were compared before and 15 min after blood donation.

RESULTS: Prior to blood donation, no donors experienced OI during mobilization. After blood donation, 6/26 (23%; 95% CI, 9 to 44) donors experienced at least one OI symptom. Three out of 26 donors (12%; 95% CI, 2 to 30) terminated the mobilization procedure prematurely because of severe OI symptoms. Cardiovascular and cerebral tissue oxygenation responses were reduced in patients with severe OI. After blood loss, HRV indices of total autonomic power remained unchanged but increased sympathetic and decreased parasympathetic outflow was observed during mobilization, but also during sleep, indicating a prolonged autonomic effect of hypovolemia.

CONCLUSION: We describe a specific hypovolemic component of postoperative OI, independent of postoperative autonomic dysfunction, inflammation, opioids, and pain.

STUDY REGISTRATION: (NCT04499664); registered 5 August 2020.

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