Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 138–142 | Cite as

Changes of autonomic cardiac profile after a 3-week integrated body weight reduction program in severely obese patients

  • M. Facchini
  • G. Malfatto
  • L. Sala
  • G. Silvestri
  • P. Fontana
  • C. Lafortuna
  • Alessandro SartorioEmail author
Original Article


The autonomic control of the heart is abnormal in obese subjects due to a prevalence of sympathetic over parasympathetic limb of the autonomic balance. We evaluated the effects of a short-term (3 weeks) integrated body weight reduction program (consisting of energy restricted diet and high-intensity exercise training) on heart rate variability (HRV) in severely obese, normotensive patients. The HRV was evaluated both in the time and frequency domain over a 18-hour Holter recording period obtained before and at the end of the third week. Three-week body weight reduction program reduced BMI (from 41.4±4.6 to 39.5±4.3 kg/m2, −4.6%, p<0.0001) and heart rate (from 77.8±8.6 to 73.6±8.7 b/min, p=0.0003). Significant changes in the autonomic profile were observed both in the time and frequency domain (SD of RR interval, SDRR: +16.1%; mean squared successive difference: (MSSD) +16.7%; percentage of RR intervals differing more than 50 msec from the preceding one, pNN50: +31.8%; low frequency oscillation, LF: +17.1%; high frequency oscillation, HF: ±18.2%). In conclusion, this study demonstrates that a short-term, integrated body weight reduction program is able to favorably modify the autonomic profile in a population of normotensive, severely obese subjects. The reduction of heart rate and the increase in parasympathetic activity may consistently contribute to a reduction of the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and of sudden cardiac death, still high in this patients’ group.


Obesity autonomic nervous system physical training weight reduction cardiovascular risk 


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Facchini
    • 1
  • G. Malfatto
    • 1
  • L. Sala
    • 1
  • G. Silvestri
    • 2
  • P. Fontana
    • 2
  • C. Lafortuna
    • 4
  • Alessandro Sartorio
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of CardiologyItalian Institute for Auxology, IRCCSMilan and PiancavalloItaly
  2. 2.Division of Metabolic Diseases IIIItalian Institute for Auxology, IRCCSMilan and PiancavalloItaly
  3. 3.Experimental Laboratory for Endocrinological ResearchItalian Institute for Auxology, IRCCSMilan and PiancavalloMilanoItaly
  4. 4.Institute of Bioimaging and Molecular PhysiologyCNRMilanoItaly

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