Influence of physical activity on 24-hour measurements of heart rate variability in patients with coronary artery disease

Am J Cardiol. 1997 Dec 1;80(11):1434-7. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9149(97)00705-4.


This study assessed the influence of physical activity on time domain variables of heart rate variability (HRV) during 24-hour electrocardiographic registrations. Changes in time domain variables of HRV (in particular SDNN) obtained from Holter recordings were proven as strong predictors of cardiac events in patients with coronary artery disease. Although 24-hour measurements of HRV recordings are a standard technique, little is known about the effects of the environment during the registration period. This applies especially to the type and nature of physical activity. In a prospective study, 106 patients with angiographically proven coronary artery disease were randomized into 2 groups. Group 1 consisted of 54 patients with recordings under normal daily physical activities. Group 2 consisted of 52 patients who were immobilized during the recording. Both groups were comparable concerning clinical parameters. The results of 24-hour measurements of HRV with analysis of time domain variables (SDNN, SDANN, SDNN index, rMSSD, and pNN50) were compared among the 2 patients groups, and with a healthy control group. Comparison of immobilized patients with healthy controls showed statistically significant differences of all HRV parameters (p <0.01). However, when comparing the activity group with healthy controls, none of the parameters showed any significant differences. Comparison of the subgroups revealed statistically significant differences of the parameters SDNN, SDANN (p <0.01), and borderline results for rMSSD and pNN50 (p = 0.05). Our results indicate that time domain variables of HRV calculated from 24-hour recordings are significantly influenced by the level of physical activity and the upright posture during registration. This methodologic aspect has to be considered, especially if HRV measurements are used as prognostic markers in patients with coronary heart disease.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Coronary Angiography
  • Coronary Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Coronary Disease / physiopathology*
  • Echocardiography
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index