Determinants and reference values of short-term heart rate variability in children
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This paper provides age- and sex-specific reference values for short-term heart rate variability (HRV) data in children by time domain and frequency domain methods. Furthermore, HRV determinants will be determined. In 460 children (5–10 years), 5-minute HRV measurements in supine position were undertaken with Polar chest belts. The data were manually edited and processed with time and frequency domain methods. Age, time point, physical activity (accelerometry), physical fitness (cardiopulmonary fitness, upper and lower limb muscular fitness) and body composition (body mass index, fat%, fat and fat-free mass) were analysed as determinants using multiple regression analysis stratified by sex. Sex- and age-specific reference values were produced. Overall, girls had lower HRV. Age-related parasympathetic increases and sympathetic decreases were seen with sometimes age-related year-to-year wave-like changes in boys. The time point of recording had limited influence on HRV. Of the lifestyle related factors, fatness (only 7 % overweight) was not associated with HRV but fat-free mass, physical activity and in particular physical fitness (over and above activity) had a favourable association by increased parasympathetic activity. Future HRV studies in children should consider age, sex and physical fitness.
KeywordsHeart rate variability Children Reference values Physical fitness Fast Fourier transform
Body fat percentage
Children’s body composition and stress
Fast Fourier transform
Heart rate variability
Limits of agreement
Maximal oxygen uptake
Percentage of consecutive normal RRI differing more than 50 ms
Root mean square of successive differences
Standard deviation of the normal RRI
This work was done as part of the IDEFICS Study (http://www.idefics.eu). We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the European Community within the Sixth RTD Framework Programme Contract No. 016181 (FOOD). The information in this document reflects the author’s view and is provided as is. Nathalie Michels is financially supported by the research council of Ghent University (Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds). Isabelle Sioen and Barbara Vanaelst are financially supported by the Research Foundation—Flanders. The results of the present study do not constitute endorsement by ACSM. The authors want to thank the ChiBS children and their parents for their voluntary participation.
Conflict of interest
The authors have no conflict of interest.
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