Effect of age on long-term heart rate variability

Cardiovasc Res. 1997 Jul;35(1):35-42. doi: 10.1016/s0008-6363(97)00107-7.


Objective: Previous studies on short-term time series of heart rage suggest an inverse relationship between age and spectral powers of heart rate variability in various frequency bands. In this study, we examined the relationship between age (6-61 years) and long-term heart rate variability.

Methods: We obtained 24-h Holter ECG in 33 healthy human subjects (11 children and 22 adults). The heart rate data were analyzed by using spectral analysis and fractal dimensions of the time series.

Results: We found a significant negative correlation between age and very low frequency (VLF, 0.0033-0.04 Hz), low frequency (LF, 0.04-0.15 Hz) and high frequency (HF, 0.15-0.5 Hz) powers and fractal dimensions during awake as well as sleep periods, and a positive correlation between age and LF/HF ratios. Age and ultra-low frequency (ULF, < 0.0033 Hz) were modestly and negatively correlated only during the awake period.

Conclusions: Sleep ULF power is not significantly affected by age, whereas VLF, LF and HF powers and fractal dimensions of heart rate significantly decrease with age during awake as well as sleep periods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Child
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory*
  • Female
  • Fractals
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Sleep / physiology