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Adiposity, muscle, and physical activity: Predictors of perturbations in heart rate variability

Authors

  • Michael E. Andrew,

    Corresponding author
    • Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, West Virginia
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  • Shengqiao LI,

    1. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health Plan, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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  • Jean Wactawski-Wende,

    1. Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Health Professions, State University of New York at Buffalo, New York
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  • Joan P. Dorn,

    1. Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Health Professions, State University of New York at Buffalo, New York
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  • Anna Mnatsakanova,

    1. Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, West Virginia
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  • Luenda E. Charles,

    1. Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, West Virginia
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  • Desta Fekedulegn,

    1. Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, West Virginia
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  • Diane B. Miller,

    1. Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, West Virginia
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  • John M. Violanti,

    1. Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Health Professions, State University of New York at Buffalo, New York
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  • Cecil M. Burchfiel,

    1. Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, West Virginia
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  • Dan S. Sharp

    1. Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, West Virginia
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  • This work was supported by NIOSH contract no. 200-2003-01580 to SUNY Buffalo and the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) program.

Correspondence to: Michael E. Andrew, Biostatistics and Epidemiology Branch, Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1095 Willowdale Road MS4020, Morgantown, West Virginia 26505, USA. E-mail: MAndrew@CDC.GOV

ABSTRACT

Objectives

This study examines cross-sectional associations of indices of adiposity, lean body mass, and physical activity, with heart rate variability (HRV), a marker for parasympathetic cardiac vagal control.

Methods

The study population consists of 360 officers from the Buffalo New York Police Department. Indices of adiposity include body mass index, waist circumference, and a fat-mass index taken from dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) measurements. Lean body mass indices were derived from DEXA measurements of trunk mass and extremity lean mass. Physical activity was measured using a 7-day self-report questionnaire. HRV was obtained from 5-min electrocardiogram measurements by means of parametric spectral analysis resulting in estimates for high-frequency (HF) and low-frequency (LF) HRV.

Results

Both HF and LF HRV were significantly associated with markers for adiposity, two components of lean mass and physical activity with all associations being in the expected direction except that for trunk lean mass. This unexpected result is explained by the possibility that trunk mass is a marker for visceral adiposity rather than lean mass. Body mass index did not explain any additional variance in HRV above and beyond waist circumference and the DEXA indices.

Conclusions

Higher levels of physical activity, lower levels of markers for central adiposity and higher lean mass in the extremities predict higher levels of HRV in this population of police officers. This association between modifiable risk factors and markers for autonomic function suggest possible interventions that may improve health and performance. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 25:370–377, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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