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Microgravity alters respiratory sinus arrhythmia and short-term heart rate variability in humans.
Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2003; 284(6):H1995-2006 (ISSN: 0363-6135)
Migeotte PF; Prisk GK; Paiva M
Biomedical Physics Laboratory, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium.

We studied heart rate (HR), heart rate variability (HRV), and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) in four male subjects before, during, and after 16 days of spaceflight. The electrocardiogram and respiration were recorded during two periods of 4 min controlled breathing at 7.5 and 15 breaths/min in standing and supine postures on the ground and in microgravity. Low (LF)- and high (HF)-frequency components of the short-term HRV (< or =3 min) were computed through Fourier spectral analysis of the R-R intervals. Early in microgravity, HR was decreased compared with both standing and supine positions and had returned to the supine value by the end of the flight. In microgravity, overall variability, the LF-to-HF ratio, and RSA amplitude and phase were similar to preflight supine values. Immediately postflight, HR increased by approximately 15% and remained elevated 15 days after landing. LF/HF was increased, suggesting an increased sympathetic control of HR standing. The overall variability and RSA amplitude in supine decreased postflight, suggesting that vagal tone decreased, which coupled with the decrease in RSA phase shift suggests that this was the result of an adaptation of autonomic control of HR to microgravity. In addition, these alterations persisted for at least 15 days after return to normal gravity (1G).

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