Familial aggregation of exercise heart rate and blood pressure in response to 20 weeks of endurance training: the HERITAGE family study

Int J Sports Med. 2003 Jan;24(1):57-62. doi: 10.1055/s-2003-37200.


Changes of heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) relative to baseline levels in response to an extended period of endurance training are indices of cardiovascular adaptability. Familial influences were investigated for HR and BP at work rates of 50 W and 60 % of the maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) in response to 20 weeks of endurance training. A total of 481 participants from 99 sedentary White nuclear families in the HERITAGE Family Study (HERITAGE) were analyzed using a familial correlation model. Each of these training response phenotypes was adjusted for the effects of age, BMI, cigarette smoking, baseline VO2max, and its baseline values in fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, respectively. We found that maximal heritabilities reached 34 % and 29 % for HR training responses at 50 W and 60 % of VO2 max, respectively. The heritability was 22 % for systolic BP (SBP) training response at 50 W, but negligible at 60 % of VO2max. No significant heritabilities were found for diastolic BP (DBP) training responses at either 50 W or 60 % of VO2max. Familial influences for exercise HR and BP training responses were also assessed in a total of 257 participants from 113 Black family units in HERITAGE. However, there was no significant familial resemblance, which may be attributable to the small sample size. In conclusion, HR and SBP training responses during submaximal exercise in Whites were influenced by a modest, but significant, familial component. These observations are therefore in contrast to substantial familial effects (heritability estimates of about 50 %) previously reported for these variables measured at baseline.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Blacks / genetics
  • Blood Pressure / genetics*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Physical Education and Training / methods
  • Physical Endurance / genetics*
  • Smoking
  • Whites / genetics