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Several heart rate variability (HRV) studies show abnormalities in autonomic nervous control in obese and overweight subjects. However, some of the results appear to be controversial. Here we investigate the HRV profile in seventy adult normotensive women and its association with general and visceral adiposity. Specifically, we recorded the electrocardiographic (ECG) activity in subjects during a supine resting state for five minutes in a quiet room late in the morning. Total fat mass (TFM) and visceral adipose tissue (VAT) were instead estimated using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Finally, we used simple a linear regression analysis of frequency and time-domain parameters to study the relationship between HRV and adiposity. Our data showed an overall reduction of the HRV related to an increase of TFM although this regression appeared significant only for high frequencies (HF). When the linear regression was applied between HRV variables and VAT, the slope of the line increases, thus unveiling a statistically significant relation (i.e. the more VAT, the lower HRV). Finally, a control analysis showed that age does not alter the relation between HRV and VAT when used as a confounding factor in multiple regression. To conclude, these findings point to abnormal activity of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) in subjects with an excess of VAT and represent a starting point to determine a non-invasive index of cardiac wellness for clinical and nutritional application.
PMID: 31553779 [PubMed - in process]