Metabolic syndrome and short-term heart rate variability in young adults. The cardiovascular risk in young Finns study.Diabet Med. 2009 Apr; 26(4):354-61.DM
Heart rate variability (HRV) can be used to estimate autonomic nervous control of the cardiovascular system. In middle-aged subjects, the metabolic syndrome (MetS) is associated with lower HRV. We hypothesized that alterations in autonomic balance are already present in young adults with the MetS, and analysed the association of short-term HRV with the MetS (using the National Cholesterol Education Program definition), in 1889 subjects aged 24-39 years.
Short-term (3 min) HRV analysis included high-frequency (HF), low-frequency (LF) and total (TP) spectral components of HRV and LF/HF ratio.
The presence of the MetS was associated with lower HF, LF and TP in men and women, and with higher LF/HF ratio in women. In men, waist circumference was the strongest individual MetS component that associated with HRV. After adjustments for age and heart rate, MetS was associated with lower HF and higher LF/HF ratio in women, but only with a lower TP in men (all P < 0.05).
MetS is associated with lower HRV in young adults. The individual components of MetS are differentially associated with HRV in men and in women. Our results are consistent with lower vagal activity and a possible increase in sympathetic predominance in women with the MetS. This sex difference in vagal activity and sympathovagal balance may partly explain the greater increase in cardiovascular risk associated with MetS in women than in men.