Cardiovascular autonomic nervous system tests: determination of normative values and effect of confounding variables

J Auton Nerv Syst. 1997 Jan 12;62(1-2):40-4. doi: 10.1016/s0165-1838(96)00107-5.


Objective: To determine normative values for heart rate variation to deep breathing (VAR) and Valsalva ratio (VAL) as well as the effect of various confounding variables on these measures using data from a large group of normal subjects collected from multiple centers.

Research design and methods: VAR and VAL were measured on 611 normal subjects, age range 9-79, from 63 centers and was analyzed at a single Autonomic Nervous System Reading Center. Using simple and stepwise logistic regression the effect of age, gender, height, weight, mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) and body mass index (BMI), on VAR and VAL was evaluated.

Results: The 95% normative values range (values at 2.5 to 97.5 percentile) for VAR (n = 580) was 12.8-103.5 (mean 49.7) and for VAL (n = 425) was 1.31-2.97 (mean 1.97). No gender effect was found for either VAR or VAL (p > 0.05). VAR correlated inversely with both age and MAP, while VAL correlated inversely with both age and BMI. Since age is the principal confounding variable for both VAR and VAL, normative values are also presented stratified by age.

Conclusion: Normative values for VAR and VAL based on a large population sample are presented. However, the values presented may not be valid in patients with morbid obesity or malignant hypertension. These data are applicable for either individual patients or for use in multicenter research trials.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values