Heart rate recovery after maximal exercise is blunted in hypertensive seniors

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2014 Dec 1;117(11):1302-7. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00395.2014. Epub 2014 Oct 9.


Abnormal heart rate recovery (HRR) after maximal exercise may indicate autonomic dysfunction and is a predictor for cardiovascular mortality. HRR is attenuated with aging and in middle-age hypertensive patients, but it is unknown whether HRR is attenuated in older-age adults with hypertension. This study compared HRR among 16 unmedicated stage 1 hypertensive (HTN) participants [nine men/seven women; 68 ± 5 (SD) yr; awake ambulatory blood pressure (BP) 149 ± 10/87 ± 7 mmHg] and 16 normotensive [control (CON)] participants (nine men/seven women; 67 ± 5 yr; 122 ± 4/72 ± 5 mmHg). HR, BP, oxygen uptake (V̇o2), cardiac output (Qc), and stroke volume (SV) were measured at rest, at two steady-state work rates, and graded exercise to peak during maximal treadmill exercise. During 6 min of seated recovery, the change in HR (ΔHR) was obtained every minute and BP every 2 min. In addition, HRR and R-R interval (RRI) recovery kinetics were analyzed using a monoexponential function, and the indexes (HRRI and RRII) were calculated. Maximum V̇o2, HR, Qc, and SV responses during exercise were not different between groups. ΔHR was significantly different (P < 0.001) between the HTN group (26 ± 8) and the CON group (36 ± 12 beats/min) after 1 min of recovery but less convincing at 2 min (P = 0.055). BP recovery was similar between groups. HRRI was significantly lower (P = 0.016), and there was a trend of lower RRII (P = 0.066) in the HTN group compared with the CON group. These results show that in older-age adults, HRR is attenuated further with the presence of hypertension, which may be attributable to an impairment of autonomic function.

Keywords: autonomic function; exercise; heart rate recovery; hypertension.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Cardiovascular