Letter Regarding Article by Hemingway et al, “Does Autonomic Function Link Social Position to Coronary Risk?: The Whitehall II Study”
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To the Editor:
We read with interest the article by Dr Hemingway and colleagues1 reporting the results from the Whitehall II study, with special emphasis on heart rate variability (HRV) and social position. That article addresses the impact of the social position of a large group of male civil servants in the United Kingdom on HRV. We agree with the authors that HRV is a useful tool to determine the balance of the autonomic nervous system and thus may be able to serve as a predictor of individual cardiovascular risk; however, there are some points we wish to comment on.
First, the authors measured HRV once for a 5-minute interval. Unfortunately, they do not report on the time of day the measurement was performed and whether this time was comparable between study participants. It is well known that HRV is strongly influenced by the …