European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 8, pp 1769–1777 | Cite as

Low-frequency ventilatory oscillations in hypoxia are a major contributor to the low-frequency component of heart rate variability

  • Eric HermandEmail author
  • Aurélien Pichon
  • François J. Lhuissier
  • Jean-Paul Richalet
Original Article



Heart rate variability (HRV) may be influenced by several factors, such as environment (hypoxia, hyperoxia, hypercapnia) or physiological demand (exercise). In this retrospective study, we tested the hypothesis that inter-beat (RR) intervals in healthy subjects exercising under various environmental stresses exhibit oscillations at the same frequency than ventilatory oscillations.


Spectra from RR intervals and ventilation (\(\dot{V}\)E) were collected from 37 healthy young male subjects who participated in 5 previous studies focused on ventilatory oscillations (or periodic breathing) during exercise in hypoxia, hyperoxia and hypercapnia. Bland and Altman test and multivariate regressions were then performed to compare respective frequencies and changes in peak powers of the two signals.


Fast Fourier analysis of RR and \(\dot{V}\)E signals showed that RR was oscillating at the same frequency than periodic breathing, i.e., ~ 0.09 Hz (11 s). During exercise, in these various conditions, the difference between minimum and maximum HRV peak power was positively correlated to the same change in ventilation peak power (P < 0.05). Low-frequency (LF) peak power was correlated to tidal volume (P < 0.01) and breathing frequency (P < 0.001).


This study suggests that low-frequency ventilatory oscillations in hypoxia are a major contributor to the LF band power of heart rate variability.

Clinical Trial Reg. no.



Heart rate variability Hypoxia Exercise Control of ventilation Periodic breathing 





Analysis of variance


Chronic heart failure


Fast Fourier transform


High frequency


Heart rate


Heart rate variability


Low frequency


Limits of agreement


Maximal aerobic power


Periodic breathing


Interbeat interval


Standard deviation


Inspiratory time


Total respiratory cycle time




Very low frequency


Tidal volume


Author contributions

EH, AP and JPR conceived and designed research. EH, JPR and FL conducted experiments. EH analyzed data. EH wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire HAVAE ‘Handicap, Activité, Vieillissement, Autonomie, Environnement’, E6310Université de Limoges, Faculté Des Sciences Et TechniquesLimoges CedexFrance
  2. 2.Sorbonne Paris Cité, Laboratoire “Hypoxie & Poumon”, E2363Université Paris 13BobignyFrance
  3. 3.Laboratoire MOVEUniversité de Poitiers, E6314PoitiersFrance
  4. 4.Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Hôpital AvicenneService de Physiologie, Explorations Fonctionnelles Et Médecine du SportBobignyFrance
  5. 5.Département MédicalInstitut National de L’Expertise Et de La PerformanceParisFrance

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