Journal Article

A 15-Year Longitudinal Follow-Up Study of Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability in Healthy Elderly Persons

Hirofumi Tasaki, Takumi Serita, Akiko Irita, Osamu Hano, Ivan Iliev, Chiaki Ueyama, Kouei Kitano, Shinji Seto, Motonobu Hayano and Katsusuke Yano

in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A

Published on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America

Volume 55, issue 12, pages M744-M749
Published in print December 2000 | ISSN: 1079-5006
Published online December 2000 | e-ISSN: 1758-535X | DOI:
A 15-Year Longitudinal Follow-Up Study of Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability in Healthy Elderly Persons

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  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Biological Sciences


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Background. Few researchers have conducted heart rate (HR) studies in healthy very elderly subjects aged 70 years or older, and there are no longitudinal follow-up studies in this population. The objective of this study was to evaluate long-term changes in HR and heart rate variability (HRV) with aging in healthy elderly persons by means of comparison between two Holter monitor recordings obtained at an interval of 15 years.

Methods. The study population consisted of 15 healthy elderly persons (10 women and 5 men) aged 64 to 80 years (mean 70 ± 4.1) at the first recording, and 79 to 95 years old (mean 85 ± 4.1 years) at the second recording 15 years later. Nighttime (midnight to 5 am) and daytime (noon to 5 pm) HR and HRV were obtained, and paired t tests were performed to assess the differences in each parameter of nighttime and daytime HR and HRV between the two (15-year interval) Holter monitor recordings.

Results. The results of the t-test comparisons were as follows: there was a significant increase in minimal, maximal, and average HRs (nighttime, p < .01; daytime, p < .05, respectively). On the other hand, with regard to HRV, there was a significant nighttime decrease in the SDNN index (mean of standard deviations of normal RR intervals between adjacent QRS complexes resulting from sinus node depolarizations for all 5-minute segments) (p = .0086), and a significant daytime increase in the NN50 (number of adjacent normal RR intervals >50 milliseconds) per hour (p = .0425). Moreover, there was a significant decrease in the low-frequency (LF) component (nighttime, p = .0151; daytime, p = .0032), and a significant decrease in the LF/HF ratio (nighttime, p = .0270; daytime, p = .0371), but there was no significant change in the nighttime or daytime high-frequency (HF) component.

Conclusions. HR increased with age over the 15-year period in the healthy elderly persons. As for concurrent changes in HRV, however, the parameters of sympathetic modulation decreased, and the parameters of parasympathetic modulation were unchanged or slightly increased.

Journal Article.  3221 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Geriatric Medicine ; Biological Sciences

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