Speed of heart rate changes during postural provocations in children and adolescents

Sci Rep. 2024 May 24;14(1):11938. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-62000-7.


Heart rate is under constant autonomic influence but the development of the influence in children is not fully understood. Continuous electrocardiograms were obtained in 1045 healthy school-age children (550 females) during postural provocations with body position changes between supine, sitting, standing, supine, standing, sitting and supine (in this order), 10 min in each position with position changes within 20 s. Heart rate was measured in each position and speed of heart rate changes between positions were assessed by regressions of rates versus timing of individual cardiac cycles. Supine heart rate was gradually decreasing with age: 82.32 ± 9.92, 74.33 ± 9.79, 67.43 ± 9.45 beats per minute (bpm) in tertile age groups < 11, 11-15, > 15 years, respectively (p < 0.0001), with no significant sex difference. Averaged speed of heart rate changes differed little between sexes and age groups but was significantly faster during rate deceleration than acceleration (e.g., supine ↔ standing: 2.99 ± 1.02 vs. 2.57 ± 0.68 bpm/s, p < 0.0001). The study suggests that in children, vagal heart rate control does not noticeably change between ages of approximately 6-19 years. The gradual resting heart rate decrease during childhood and adolescence is likely caused by lowering of cardiac sympathetic influence from sympathetic overdrive in small children to adult-like sympatho-vagal balance in older adolescents.

PMID:38789480 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-024-62000-7