[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is evolving evidence that heart rate (HR) is genetically determined. Heart rate variability (HRV) measured by power spectral analysis provides quantitative phenotypic markers of autonomic nervous system activity. Reported determinants of HR and HRV only partially explain their variability in the population. The purpose of this study was to assess the heritability of HR and HRV and estimate the contribution of genetic factors to their variance.
Subjects who underwent ambulatory recordings at a routine examination were eligible; subjects with congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, diabetes mellitus, and those taking cardioactive medications were excluded. We analyzed high-frequency power, low-frequency power, very low-frequency power, total power, low-frequency/high-frequency ratio, and the standard deviation of normal R-R intervals from 2-hour continuous ECG recordings. Heritability analysis was done by studying correlations between siblings (n=682, in 291 sibships, 517 pairs) and between spouse pairs (n=206 pairs) after adjusting for important covariates. Results from separate models were combined to estimate the components of variance attributable to measured covariates, additive genetic effects (heritability), and household effects. After adjusting for covariates, the correlations were consistently higher among siblings (0.21 to 0.26) compared with spouses (0.01 to 0.19). The measured covariates in general accounted for 13% to 40% of the total phenotypic variance, whereas genetic factors accounted for 13% to 23% of the variation among HR and HRV measures.
Heritable factors may explain a substantial proportion of the variance in HR and HRV. These results highlight the contribution of genetic versus environmental factors to autonomic nervous system activity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although systolic blood pressure (SBP) response to exercise has been shown to predict subsequent hypertension in small samples of men, this association has not been studied in a large population-based sample of middle-aged men and women. The purpose of this study was to examine, in normotensive subjects, the relations of SBP and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) during the exercise and recovery periods of a graded treadmill test to the risk of developing new-onset hypertension.
BP data from exercise testing in 1026 men and 1284 women (mean age, 42+/-10 years; range, 20 to 69 years) from the Framingham Offspring Study who were normotensive at baseline were related to the incidence of hypertension 8 years later. New-onset hypertension, defined as an SBP >/=140 mm Hg or DBP >/=90 mm Hg or the initiation of antihypertensive drug treatment, occurred in 228 men (22%) and 207 women (16%). Exaggerated SBP (Ex-SBP 2) and DBP (Ex-DBP 2) response and delayed recovery of SBP (R-SBP 3) and DBP (R-DBP 3) were defined as an age-adjusted BP greater than the 95th percentile during the second stage of exercise and third minute of recovery, respectively. After multivariable adjustment, Ex-DBP 2 was highly predictive of incident hypertension in both men (OR, 4.16; 95% CI, 2.15, 8.05) and women (OR, 2.17; CI, 1.19, 3.96). R-SBP 3 was predictive of hypertension in men in a multivariable model that included exercise duration and peak exercise BP (OR, 1.92; CI, 1.00, 3.69). Baseline resting SBP (chi2, 23.4 in men and 34.7 in women) and DBP (chi2, 11.3 in men and 13.1 in women) had stronger associations with new-onset hypertension than exercise DBP (chi2, 16.4 in men and 6.1 in women) and recovery SBP (chi2, 6.5 in men and 2.1 in women) responses.
An exaggerated DBP response to exercise was predictive of risk for new-onset hypertension in normotensive men and women. An elevated recovery SBP was predictive of hypertension in men. These findings may reflect subtle pathophysiological features in the preclinical stage of hypertension.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Heart rate variability (HRV) is a useful noninvasive tool to assess cardiac autonomic function. The purpose of this study was to (1) compare measures of HRV between hypertensive and normotensive subjects and (2) examine the role of HRV as a predictor of new-onset hypertension. The first 2 hours of ambulatory ECG recordings obtained from 931 men and 1111 women attending a routine examination at the Framingham Heart Study were processed for HRV. Three time-domain and 5 frequency-domain variables were studied: standard deviation of normal RR intervals (SDNN), percentage of differences between adjacent normal RR intervals exceeding 50 milliseconds, square root of the mean of squared differences between adjacent normal RR intervals, total power (0.01 to 0.40 Hz), high frequency power (HF, 0.15 to 0.40 Hz), low frequency power (LF, 0.04 to 0.15 Hz), very low frequency power (0.01 to 0.04 Hz), and LF/HF ratio. On cross-sectional analysis, HRV was significantly lower in hypertensive men and women. Among 633 men and 801 women who were normotensive at baseline (systolic blood pressure <140 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure <90 mm Hg and not receiving antihypertensive treatment), 119 men and 125 women were newly hypertensive at follow-up 4 years later. After adjustment for factors associated with hypertension, multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that LF was associated with incident hypertension in men (odds ratio per SD decrement [OR], 1.38; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04 to 1.83) but not in women (OR, 1.12; 95% CI, 0.86 to 1.46). SDNN, HF, and LF/HF were not associated with hypertension in either sex. HRV is reduced in men and women with systemic hypertension. Among normotensive men, lower HRV was associated with greater risk for developing hypertension. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that autonomic dysregulation is present in the early stage of hypertension.