Journal Article

Heart rate variability in an ageing population and its association with lifestyle and cardiovascular risk factors: results of the SAPALDIA study

Denise Felber Dietrich, Christian Schindler, Joel Schwartz, Jean-Claude Barthélémy, Jean-Marie Tschopp, Frédéric Roche, Arnold von Eckardstein, Otto Brändli, Philipppe Leuenberger, Diane R. Gold, Jean-Michel Gaspoz and Ursula Ackermann-Liebrich

in EP Europace

Published on behalf of European Heart Rhythm Association of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC)

Volume 8, issue 7, pages 521-529
Published in print July 2006 | ISSN: 1099-5129
Published online July 2006 | e-ISSN: 1532-2092 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/europace/eul063
Heart rate variability in an ageing population and its association with lifestyle and cardiovascular risk factors: results of the SAPALDIA study

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Aims (i) To report associations between cardiovascular risk factors and heart rate variability (HRV) in a general population and (ii) to provide normal values for various HRV measurements in a healthy European general population sample aged ≥50.

Methods and results Twenty-four-hour electrocardiograms were recorded in 1742 randomly selected SAPALDIA (Swiss cohort study on Air Pollution and Lung Diseases in Adults) participants aged ≥50. In multivariate regression analyses, women (n=895) had a 6.1% lower standard deviation of all normal RR (NN) intervals (SDNN), a 11.4% lower total power (TP), and a 27.2% lower low-frequency (LF) power than men (n=847). Per unit increase in BMI, SDNN decreased by 0.7% and TP decreased by 1.2%. Persons with high blood pressure had a 9.2% lower LF than normotensive persons and current smokers a 15.5% lower LF than never smokers. Each hour of heavy physical exercise was associated with a 2.0% increase in SDNN, a 3.6% increase in the high frequency (HF) range power and a 4.2% increase in LF power. Higher levels of uric acid, high-sensitive C-reactive protein and non-HDL-cholesterol were associated with lower TP, HF and LF. Percentiles of TP and LF/HF as a function of age were calculated for an asymptomatic subsample of participants (n=499) free of cardioactive medications.

Conclusion Heart rate variability in a general population sample shows expected associations with all known cardiovascular risk factors, although not identically for all HRV domains. Together with our percentile estimates for HRV as a function of age, these findings could assist scientists in interpreting 24 h HRV values and factors influencing them in an ageing population.

Keywords: Heart rate variability; Autonomic nervous system; Epidemiology

Journal Article.  5595 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cardiovascular Medicine

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