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. 2017;21(10):1250-1253.
doi: 10.1007/s12603-016-0817-8.

Effects of Body Mass Index on Parasympathetic Nervous System Reactivity and Recovery Following Orthostatic Stress


Effects of Body Mass Index on Parasympathetic Nervous System Reactivity and Recovery Following Orthostatic Stress

D P Williams et al. J Nutr Health Aging. .


Vagally mediated heart rate variability (vmHRV), defined as the beat-to-beat fluctuations in a heart series mediated by the vagus nerve, serves as a non-invasive index of parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) activity. Lower resting state vmHRV is associated with greater body mass index (BMI), providing a psychophysiological pathway linking obesity with health and disease. However little research has been conducted to examine how BMI may influence PNS reactivity to orthostatic stress. The present study sought to explore this in a sample of 59 individuals (44 females, mean age = 24.37 years, age range 19-65 years). VmHRV was measured throughout the 5-minute baseline (sitting), orthostatic (standing), and recovery (sitting) conditions. Individuals were stratified into low (BMI < 20), moderate (BMI 20-25), and high (BMI > 25) BMI groups. Results indicate that the high BMI group had a greater decrease in vmHRV from baseline to standing in comparison to the moderate BMI group. Furthermore, the low BMI group showed lower vmHRV during recovery compared to baseline, suggesting that these individuals did not fully recover from the standing position. Taken together, these results extend previous literature showing that those with low and high BMI can show different yet maladaptive patterns of vmHRV in response to orthostatic stress.

Keywords: Heart rate variability; autonomic nervous system; body mass index; orthostatic; parasympathetic nervous system.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors did not receive funding for the work presented. The authors declare no conflict of interests, all authors are listed, and all have contributed substantially to the manuscript.

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