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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2012 Mar;21(3):334-9. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2011.2932. Epub 2011 Oct 3.

Heart rate variability and exercise in aging women.

Author information

1
Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Preventive Medicine and Exercise Biology, Louisiana State University System, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70808, USA. conrad.earnest@pbrc.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Our group has shown a positive dose-response in maximal cardiorespiratory exercise capacity (VO(2max)) and heart rate variability (HRV) to 6 months of exercise training but no improvement in VO(2max) for women ≥60 years. Here, we examine the HRV response to exercise training in postmenopausal women younger and older than 60 years.

METHODS:

We examined 365 sedentary, overweight, hypertensive, postmenopausal women randomly assigned to sedentary control or exercise groups exercising at 50% (4 kcal/kg/week, [KKW]), 100% (8 KKW) and 150% (12 KKW) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Development Panel physical activity guidelines. Primary outcomes included time and frequency domain indices of HRV.

RESULTS:

Overall, our analysis demonstrated a significant improvement in parasympathetic tone (rMSSD and high frequency power) for both age strata at 8 KKW and 12 KKW. For rMSSD, the age-stratified responses were: control, <60 years, 0.20 ms, 95% confidence interval (CI)-2.40, 2.81; ≥60 years, 0.07 ms, 95% CI -3.64, 3.79; 4 KKW, <60 years, 3.67 ms, 95% CI 1.55, 5.79; ≥60 years, 1.20 ms, 95% CI -1.82, 4.22; 8-KKW, <60 years, 3.61 ms, 95% CI 0.88, 6.34; ≥60 years, 5.75 ms, 95% CI 1.89, 9.61; and 12-KKW, <60 years, 5.07 ms, 95% CI 2.53, 7.60; ≥60 years, 4.28 ms, 95% CI 0.42, 8.14.

CONCLUSIONS:

VO(2max) and HRV are independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality. Despite no improvement in VO(2max), parasympathetic indices of HRV increased in women ≥60 years. This is clinically important, as HRV has important CVD risk and neurovisceral implications beyond cardiorespiratory function.

PMID:
21967166
PMCID:
PMC3298675
DOI:
10.1089/jwh.2011.2932
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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