Impaired cardiac autonomic nervous system function is associated with pediatric hypertension independent of adiposity

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Background:We examined whether sympathetic nervous system activity influences hypertension status and systolic blood pressure (SBP) independent of adiposity in youth ranging from normal-weight to severe obesity.Methods:We examined the association of heart rate variability (HRV) with hypertension status and SBP among youth (6-18 y old; n = 188; 103 female). Seated SBP was measured using an automated cuff. Prehypertension (SBP percentile ≥ 90th to <95th) and hypertension (SBP percentile ≥ 95th) were defined by age-, sex-, and height-norms. Autonomic nervous system activity was measured using HRV via SphygmoCor MM3 system and analyzed for time-and frequency-domains. Total body fat was measured via dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.Results:Logistic regression models demonstrated lower values in each time-domain HRV measure and larger low-frequency (LF):high-frequency (HF) ratio to be significantly associated with higher odds of being prehypertensive/hypertensive (11-47% higher odds) independent of total body fat (P < 0.05). In linear regression analysis, lower time-domain, but not frequency-domain, HRV measures were significantly associated with higher SBP independent of total body fat (P < 0.05).Conclusion:These data suggest that impaired cardiac autonomic nervous system function, at rest, is associated with higher odds of being prehypertensive/hypertensive and higher SBP which may be independent of adiposity in youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-54
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


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