Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 99-109

First online:

Differences in pulse rate and heart rate and effects on the calculation of heart rate reactivity during periods of mental stress

  • Christopher F. SharpleyAffiliated withCentre for Stress Management & Research, Monash University

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Heart rate and reactivity from pulse and ECG were compared over rest and mental arithmetic periods of 2-min duration each for 32 males and 50 females. Data from the two sources of heart rate were not significantly different during the rest period but did differ significantly during periods of heart rate acceleration and deceleration. Sex effects were also noted, with females having consistently higher heart rates from both sources of measurement. Calculation of heart rate reactivity via five procedures based upon the wider literature revealed significant differences between data from different sources of heart rate. Implications for assessment of heart rate reactivity to laboratory stressors are discussed, with suggestions for future research.

Key Words

heart rate reactivity gender differences methodology