Log in with your email address username.

×

Important notice

doctorportal Learning is on the move as we will be launching a new website very shortly. If you would like to sign up to dp Learning now to register for CPD learning or to use our CPD tracker, please email support@doctorportal.com.au so we can assist you. If you are already signed up to doctorportal Learning, your login will work in the new site so you can continue to enrol for learning, complete an online module, or access your CPD tracker report.

To access and/or sign up for other resources such as Jobs Board, Bookshop or InSight+, please go to www.mja.com.au, or click the relevant menu item and you will be redirected.

All other doctorportal services, such as Find A Doctor, are no longer available.

Resting heart rate, heart rate variability and functional decline in old age [Research]

Background:

Heart rate and heart rate variability, markers of cardiac autonomic function, have been linked with cardiovascular disease. We investigated whether heart rate and heart rate variability are associated with functional status in older adults, independent of cardiovascular disease.

Methods:

We obtained data from the Prospective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk (PROSPER). A total of 5042 participants were included in the present study, and mean follow-up was 3.2 years. Heart rate and heart rate variability were derived from baseline 10-second electrocardiograms. Heart rate variability was defined as the standard deviation of normal-to-normal RR intervals (SDNN). Functional status in basic (ADL) and instrumental (IADL) activities of daily living was measured using Barthel and Lawton scales, at baseline and during follow-up.

Results:

The mean age of the study population was 75.3 years. At baseline, higher heart rate was associated with worse ADL and IADL, and lower SDNN was related to worse IADL (all p values < 0.05). Participants in the highest tertile of heart rate (range 71–117 beats/min) had a 1.79-fold (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.45–2.22) and 1.35-fold (95% CI 1.12–1.63) higher risk of decline in ADL and IADL, respectively (p for trend < 0.001 and 0.001, respectively). Participants in the lowest tertile of SDNN (range 1.70–13.30 ms) had 1.21-fold (95% CI 1.00–1.46) and 1.25-fold (95% CI 1.05–1.48) higher risk of decline in ADL and IADL, respectively (both p for trends < 0.05). All associations were independent of sex, medications, cardiovascular risk factors and comorbidities.

Interpretation:

Higher resting heart rate and lower heart rate variability were associated with worse functional status and with higher risk of future functional decline in older adults, independent of cardiovascular disease. This study provides insight into the role of cardiac autonomic function in the development of functional decline.

email