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Age-related decline in cardiac autonomic function is not attenuated with increased physical activity

Lookup NU author(s): Hugo Njemanze, Charlotte Warren, Professor Christopher EggettORCiD, Dr Guy MacGowanORCiD, Dr Matt Bates, Dr Mario Siervo, Professor Mike TrenellORCiD, Professor Djordje JakovljevicORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Age and physical inactivity are important risk factors for cardiovascular mortality. Heart rate response to exercise (HRRE) and heart rate recovery (HRR), measures of cardiac autonomic function, are strong predictors of mortality. The present study defined the effect of age and physical activity on HRRE and HRR. Healthy women (N=72) grouped according to age (young, 20-30 years; middle, 40-50 years; and older, 65-81 years) and daily physical activity (low active <7500, high active >12,500 steps/day) performed a maximal cardiopulmonary exercise test. The HRRE was defined as an increase in heart rate from rest to 1, 3 and 5 minutes of exercise and at 1/3 of total exercise time, and HRR as the difference in heart rate between peak exercise and 1, 2, and 3 minutes later. Age was associated with a significant decline in HRRE at 1 min and 1/3 of exercise time (r=-0.27, p=0.04, and r=-0.39, p=0.02) and HRR at 2 min and 3 min (r=-0.35, p=0.01, and r=-0.31, p=0.02). There was no significant difference in HRRE and HRR between high and low-active middle-age and older women (p>0.05). Increased level of habitual physical activity level appears to have a limited effect on age-related decline in cardiac autonomic function in women.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Njemanze H, Warren C, Eggett C, MacGowan GA, Bates MGD, Siervo M, Ivkovic S, Trenell MI, Jakovljevic DG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Oncotarget

Year: 2016

Volume: 7

Issue: 47

Pages: 76390-76397

Online publication date: 02/10/2016

Acceptance date: 23/09/2016

Date deposited: 16/11/2016

ISSN (electronic): 1949-2553

Publisher: Impact Journals LLC


DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.12403

PubMed id: 27705949


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Funder referenceFunder name
Newcastle National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre in Ageing and Age Related Diseases
L016354Research Councils UK Centre for Ageing and Vitality
SRF-2011-04-017NIHR Senior Research Fellowship
MR/L016354/1Medical Research Council (MRC)