Analysis of heart rate variability demonstrates effects of development on vagal modulation of heart rate in healthy children

J Pediatr. 1997 May;130(5):725-9. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(97)80013-3.


Objectives: Analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) has been found to be a useful method of assessing cardiovascular autonomic control, but normal values for standard HRV measures in children have not been established. We analyzed HRV in 60 healthy children aged 3 to 15 years to determine normal values and to assess the effects of development on cardiac autonomic control with the use of ambulatory electrocardiographic monitoring.

Results: The high-frequency (HF) component, an index of cardiac autonomic tone, increased significantly with age from 3 to 6 years (p < 0.01) and decreased with age from 6 to 15 years (p < 0.01), and the magnitude of HF correlated significantly with the R-R intervals. Thus the changes in cardiac autonomic tone could be described as a simple equation using age and heart rate.

Conclusions: We present normal values and changes in the cardiac autonomic system during childhood after HRV analysis, which could lead to a better understanding and treatment of cardiac disease in children.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory
  • Reference Values