Reliability revisited: Autonomic responses in the context of everyday well-being

Published:October 24, 2012DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijcard.2012.09.177
      Measures of autonomic reactivity, particularly heart rate (HR) variability (HRV), are increasingly used in research and clinical settings as biological correlates of the severity and prognosis of a broad spectrum of conditions, including cardiovascular, inflammatory and psychiatric conditions [
      • Thayer J.F.
      • Yamamoto S.S.
      • Brosschot J.F.
      The relationship of autonomic imbalance, heart rate variability and cardiovascular disease risk factors.
      ,
      • Evrengül H.
      • Dursunoglu D.
      • Cobankara V.
      • et al.
      Heart rate variability in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
      ,
      • Thayer J.F.
      • Brosschot J.F.
      Psychosomatics and psychopathology: looking up and down from the brain.
      ]. Several studies examining the reliability of HRV have produced inconsistent results (see [
      • Sandercock G.R.H.
      • Bromley P.D.
      • Brodie D.A.
      The reliability of short-term measurements of heart rate variability.
      ] for review), but have largely failed to consider the impact of physical and psychological states despite these being known to influence autonomic nervous system activity [
      • Thayer J.F.
      • Brosschot J.F.
      Psychosomatics and psychopathology: looking up and down from the brain.
      ]. In this study, we re-examine the reliability of HRV and other commonly used autonomic measures taken as part of laboratory assessments, and from 24-hour ambulatory recordings in healthy individuals. Importantly, we explore the sensitivity of these measures to day-to-day variations in well-being. This investigation conformed to the ethical principles for medical research involving human participants as outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki, and was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee. Written informed consent was obtained from all participants. The authors of this manuscript have certified that they comply with the Principles of Ethical Publishing in the International Journal of Cardiology.

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