Graded response of heart rate variability, associated with an alteration of geomagnetic activity in a subarctic area

S. Oinuma, Y. Kubo, K. Otsuka, T. Yamanaka, S. Murakami, O. Matsuoka, S. Ohkawa, Germaine G Cornelissen-Guillaume, A. Weydahl, B. Holmeslet, C. Hall, F. Halberg

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32 Scopus citations


It is becoming recognized that geomagnetic activity may influence biological processes, including the incidence of various human diseases. There is evidence that heart rate variability (HRV) may serve not only as an index of autonomic coordination of the circulation, but also as a powerful predictor of risk in apparently healthy subjects. This study focuses on the effects of geomagnetic disturbance on HRV, by comparing different indices of HRV of young, healthy men living in a subarctic area on days of low (Ap; 0-7), middle (Ap; 7-20), and high (Ap; 20-45) geomagnetic activity. The effect of geomagnetic disturbance on HRV is examined on the basis of 7-day records by Holter ECG, obtained longitudinally on 5 clinically healthy men, 21-31 years of age, in Alta, Norway (70 degree N). Frequency- and time-domain measures of HRV were analyzed for each subject on separate 24-hour spans. A graded alteration of HRV endpoints was found in association with increased geomagnetic activity. As time-domain measures of HRV, SDNNIDX and the 90% length of the Lorenz plot decreased statistically significantly on days with increased geomagnetic disturbance (p=0.0144 and p=0.0102, respectively). A graded decrease in frequency-domain HRV measures was also validated statistically for the total spectral power (decrease of 18.1% and 31.6% on days when 7<Ap<20 and 20<Ap<45 versus days when Ap<7; p=0.0013). The decrease in spectral power was mainly found at frequencies below 0.04 Hz, in the "ultra-low-frequency" (0.0001-0.003 Hz; 18.1% and 27.5% decrease, respectively; p=0.0102) and "very-low-frequency" (0.003-0.04 Hz; 12.9% and 28.6% decrease, respectively; p=0.0209) regions of the spectrum. The decrease in spectral power was much less pronounced around 10.5 sec ("low frequency"; N.S.) and around 3.6 sec ("high frequency"; N.S.). Evidence is provided here that HRV decreases on magnetically disturbed days, and that it does so in a dose-dependent fashion, HRV being depressed more on days when 20<Ap<45 than on days when 7<Ap<20, by comparison with days when Ap<7. This graded response of HRV to geomagnetic activity should encourage us to search for human magnetoreceptors and for a better understanding of putative mechanisms of magnetoreception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-288
Number of pages5
JournalBiomedicine and Pharmacotherapy
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - Nov 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Japan Arteriosclerosis Prevention Fund. The expert advice of Dr Trulis Lynne Hansen (Auroral Observatory, University of Tromso, Norway), Dr Satoru Tsunomura (Kakioka Magnetic Observatory, Japan Meteorological Agency), Dr Maki Akioka (Communications Research Laboratory, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Japan) and Professor Yosuke Kamide (Solar-Terrestrial Environment Laboratory, Nagoya University) is gratefully acknowledged.


  • Chronoastrobiology
  • Geomagnetic activity
  • Graded response
  • Heart rate variability
  • Magnetoreception
  • Subarctic area


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