Body fat and blood lipids in postmenopausal women are related to resting autonomic nervous system activity
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The present study investigated the activity of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), a major influence in normal physiological function, and its association with unfavorable postmenopausal states in body composition, lipid and/or glucose metabolism, or cardiovascular profiles. Body composition, blood pressure, and blood profiles of lipid and glucose of 175 postmenopausal women were measured. Resting ANS activity was assessed by heart rate variability (HRV) power spectral analysis. To scrutinize the influence of ANS activity levels on postmenopausal obesity-related factors, we divided the subjects into a low group ( < 220 ms2) and a high group ( > 220 ms2), based on the total power of HRV. Low-frequency (P < 0.01) and high-frequency power (P < 0.01) were both significantly lower in the low group. No significant difference was found in age, age at menopause, or years after menopause between the two groups. In contrast, body mass index (P < 0.05), percentages of body fat (P < 0.01), and systolic (P < 0.01) and diastolic (P < 0.01) blood pressure were significantly greater in the low group. As to blood lipid profiles, triglycerides (P < 0.05), total cholesterol (P < 0.05), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (P < 0.05) were significantly higher in the low group. Our findings indicate that reduced sympatho-vagal activity is associated with higher postmenopausal body fat content, blood pressure, and blood lipid concentrations. This study further implies that such autonomic depression could be a crucial risk factor in undermining the health and, ultimately, the quality of life, of postmenopausal women.
KeywordsMenopause Autonomic nervous system Heart rate variability Body composition Dyslipidemia
We wish to express our appreciation to Dr. Tatsuya Hayashi, Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, for his constructive suggestions and cooperation.
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