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Pediatr Res. 2000 Mar;47(3):329-35.

Heart rate recovery after exercise and cardiac autonomic nervous activity in children.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, National Cardiovascular Center, Suita, Osaka, Japan.


To investigate the difference in heart rate (HR) recovery after exercise between children and young adults, we administered a constant load of light exercise intensity and progressive treadmill exercise tests to nine children (aged 9 to 12 y, group A) and eight young adults (six male and two female, aged 17 to 21 y, group B) who had a history of Kawasaki disease without significant coronary arterial lesions. HR after both exercise protocols was analyzed. The low-frequency (LF) and high-frequency (HF) components of HR variability were measured, and LF/HF was calculated (log LF, log HF, log L/H). Arterial baroreflex sensitivity was assessed by the phenylephrine method. There were no differences between groups A and B in resting HR, peak HR, peak oxygen uptake, and decreases in systolic blood pressure during the recovery period. HR 1 and 2 min after peak exercise and 1 min after constant-load exercise was significantly lower in group A than in group B (p < 0.05), and the changes in HR from peak values after both exercise tests were also greater in group A than in group B (p < 0.05-0.01). Although no difference in arterial baroreflex sensitivity was observed, log HF was significantly higher in group A than in group B (p < 0.01), and log L/H was significantly lower in group A than in group B (p < 0.05). The value of log HF correlated inversely with the decrease in HR immediately after both exercise protocols (p < 0.05-0.01). Although log L/H correlated with the decrease in HR after peak exercise (p < 0.05-0.0005), the early decline in HR after constant-load exercise did not correlate with log L/H. Arterial baroreflex sensitivity did not correlate with the decrease in HR at any recovery time. These data suggest that the early phase of HR recovery after light to severe exercise is influenced by the cardiac parasympathetic nervous activity at rest and that the greater central cholinergic modulation of HR in children than in young adults may be responsible in part for children's faster HR recovery after exercise.

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