Spectral characteristics of heart rate variability before and during postural tilt. Relations to aging and risk of syncope.
Fourier analysis of heart rate (HR) may be used to characterize overall HR variability as well as low- and high-frequency components attributable to sympathetic and vagal influences, respectively. We analyzed HR spectral characteristics of 12 healthy young (18-35 years) and 10 healthy old (71-94 years) subjects before and during 60 degrees head-up tilt. Total spectral power in the 0.01-0.40-Hz frequency range and low-frequency (0.06-0.10 Hz) and high-frequency (0.15-0.40 Hz) components of the HR power spectrum were significantly lower in old than in young subjects in supine and upright positions. To characterize and compare overall HR variability in young and old subjects, we computed the regression lines relating the log amplitude to the log frequency of the supine HR spectra (l/fx plots). The regression lines for old subjects were lower and steeper (mean slope, -0.78 [5%, 95% confidence limits (CL), -0.73, -0.83]) than in young (mean slope, -0.67 [CL, -0.62, -0.72]), indicating not only reduced overall spectral amplitude but also relatively greater attenuation of high-frequency HR components in the old subjects. This finding illustrates a novel way to quantify the loss of autonomic influences on HR regulation as a function of age. During postural tilt, HR variability was unchanged in the old subjects. For the entire group of young subjects, total HR variability increased during tilt. Six young subjects developed vasovagal syncope during tilt, enabling us to examine differences in the HR spectra of these subjects while they were asymptomatic before syncope.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
- Copyright © 1990 by American Heart Association