The autonomic nervous system regulates multiple physiological functions; how distinct neurons in peripheral autonomic and intrathoracic ganglia communicate remains to be established. Increasing focus is being paid to functionality of the neurocardiac axis and crosstalk between the intrinsic nervous system and diverse organ systems. Current findings indicate that progression of cardiovascular disease comprises peripheral and central aspects of the cardiac nervous system hierarchy. Indeed, autonomic neuronal dysfunction is known to participate in arrhythmogenesis and sudden cardiac death; diverse interventions (pharmacological, non-pharmacological) that affect neuronal remodeling in the heart following injury caused by cardiovascular disease (congestive heart failure, etc.) or acute myocardial infarction are being investigated. Herein we examine recent findings from clinical and animal studies on the role of the intrinsic cardiac nervous system on regulation of myocardial perfusion and the consequences of cardiac injury. We also discuss different interventions that target the autonomic nervous system, stimulate neuronal remodeling and adaptation, and thereby optimize patient outcomes.
Part of the book: Autonomic Nervous System