Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability in Healthy Preterm-Born Young Adults and Association with Vitamin D: A Wearable Device Assessment

J Clin Med. 2023 Dec 5;12(24):7504. doi: 10.3390/jcm12247504.


Prematurity has been associated with impaired parasympathetic cardiac regulation later in life. Changes in heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) may indicate a risk for future cardiac dysfunction. The putative role of Vitamin D on cardiac autonomic function in individuals born preterm (PT) remains unknown. This study involves monitoring autonomic cardiac regulation and Vitamin D concentrations in 30 PT and 16 full-term (FT) young adults in a free-living context. The PT subjects were born between 1994 and 1997 at Oulu University Hospital. The inclusion criteria were (1) being born ≤ 32 gestation weeks or (2) being born < 34 gestation weeks with a birth weight under 1500 g. Participants wore an Oura ring sleep tracer, a smart ring device, for 2 weeks to monitor cardiac autonomic function. Parameters related to autonomic cardiac regulation, lowest nighttime resting HR, and the root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD) to describe HRV were collected. PT males exhibited a tendency toward lower RMSSD (71.8 ± 22.6) compared to FT males (95.63 ± 29.0; p = 0.10). Female participants had a similar mean RMSSD in the FT and PT groups at 72.04 ± 33.2 and 74.0 ± 35.0, respectively. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration did not correlate with cardiac autonomic function parameters. When assessing the lowest resting nighttime HRs and HRVs in a long-term, real-world context, healthy female PT young adults performed similarly to their FT peers. In contrast, the present study's results suggest that male PT young adults exhibit impaired autonomic cardiac function, potentially putting them at risk for cardiovascular disease later in adulthood.

Keywords: HRV; RMSSD; Vitamin D status; cardiac autonomic function; preterm birth; wearable device.