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Ind Health. 1998 Jul;36(3):209-17.

Long commuting time, extensive overtime, and sympathodominant state assessed in terms of short-term heart rate variability among male white-collar workers in the Tokyo megalopolis.

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Department of Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing, Oita University of Nursing and Health Sciences, Japan.


To investigate the possible effects of long commuting time and extensive overtime on daytime cardiac autonomic activity, the short-term heart rate variability (HRV) both at supine rest and at standing rest of 223 male white-collar workers in the Tokyo Megalopolis was examined. Workers with a one-way commute of 90 min or more exhibited decreased vagal activity at supine rest and increased sympathetic activity regardless of posture, and those doing overtime of 60 h/month or more exhibited decreased vagal activity and increased sympathetic activity at standing rest. These findings suggest that chronic stress or fatigue resulting from long commuting time or extensive overtime caused these individuals to be in a sympathodominant state. Although these shifts in autonomic activities are not direct indicators of disease, it can be hypothesized that they can induce cardiovascular abnormalities or dysfunctions related to the onset of heart disease. Assessment of the daily and weekly variations in HRV as a function of daily life activities (such as working, commuting, sleeping, and exercising) among workers in Asia-Pacific urban areas might be one way of studying the possible effects of long commuting time, and extensive overtime, on health.

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