HRV_post_exercise_in_Menopause_formatted_ACCEPTED_Sept_18,2015-2.pdf (109.25 kB)

After-exercise heart rate variability is attenuated in postmenopausal women and unaffected by estrogen therapy

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journal contribution
posted on 17.03.2016, 11:15 by Paula J. Harvey, Emma ODonnell, Peter Picton, Beverley L. Morris, Catherine F. Notarius, John S. Floras
Delayed heart rate (HR) recovery in the immediate postexercise period has been linked to adverse cardiovascular prognosis. The after effects of an acute bout of exercise on HR modulation in postmenopausal women (PMW) and the influence of estrogen therapy are unknown.In 13 sedentary PMW (54 ± 2 y, mean ± SEM), we assessed HR variability (HRV) -an index of HR modulation-and the influence of estrogen therapy on HRV. HRV in the frequency domain was quantified during supine rest and again 60 minutes after treadmill exercise for 45 minutes, at 60% VO2peak. PMW were studied before and after 4 weeks of oral estradiol. To obtain reference values for the after effects of exercise on HRV in healthy young women, 14 premenopausal women (PreM) completed the identical exercise protocol.Compared with PreM, PMW demonstrated lower high frequency (vagal modulation) and total HRV (P < 0.05) at rest. In PreM, all HRV values were similar before and after exercise. In contrast, in PMW after exercise, despite having identical HR to PreM, high frequency and total HRV were all lower (all P ≤ 0.01) compared with pre-exercise HRV values. Estrogen therapy had no effect on pre or postexercise values for HRV.When compared with PreM, PMW have identical HR, but lower vagal HR modulation at rest and delayed HRV recovery after exercise. Estrogen does not restore baseline HRV or accelerate HRV recovery postexercise, suggesting aging rather than estrogen deficiency per se may lower HRV in PMW.


This study was supported by Grants-in-Aid T4050 and T4938 from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. Dr. Paula Harvey was the recipient of a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia Neil Hamilton Fairley Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and a Heart and Stroke Research Corporation of Canada Research Fellowship. Dr. Floras holds the Canada Research Chair in Investigative Cardiovascular Biology and was a Career Investigator of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

Menopause (New York, N.Y.)








HARVEY, P.J. ... et al., 2016. After-exercise heart rate variability is attenuated in postmenopausal women and unaffected by estrogen therapy. Menopause, 23 (4), pp. 390-395.


Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins © The North American Menopause Society


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This article was accepted for publication in the journal, Menopause [Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins © The North American Menopause Society].







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