The Effects of a Respiratory Acidosis on Human Heart Rate Variability

  • S. J. Brown
  • R. Howden
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 605)

Human heart rate variability (HRV) was examined during a mild respiratory acidosis induced by inhalation of a normoxic hypercapnic gas mixture. On two separate occasions, separated by 72 but not more than 120 hr, ECG was recorded from 9 normotensive subjects during supine rest. ECG was recorded for 20 min breathing room air or a 5% CO2 in normoxic air mixture. Expired V'E, O2 and CO2 were measured with breath-by-breath mass spectrometry. HRV spectra were calculated using a Welch averaged periodogram method and banded as Very Low Frequency (VLF: 0 – 0.04 Hz), Low Frequency (LF: 0.04 – 0.15 Hz), and High Frequency (HF: 0.15 – 0.4 Hz). Student paired samples t-tests were used to compare room air (RA) versus inhaled 5% CO2 in air (5% CO2) data. All results reported as mean +/− SD. In the HRV time domain, hypercapnic normoxia reduced mean r-r intervals (5% CO2: 956.1 ± 149.2 vs. RA: 1035 ± 146.8 ms, p = 0.022) and median r-r intervals (5% CO2: 942.6 ± 153.1 vs. RA: 1047.8 ± 157.3 ms, p = 0.010), and increased heart rates (5% CO2: 64.4 ± 12 vs. RA: 59.3 ± 10.1 bpm, p = 0.019). In the HRV frequency domain, hypercapnic normoxia increased the high frequency component of HRV (5% CO2: 9799 ± 7649 vs. RA: 4399 ± 3857 ms4) and reduced the LF/HF ratio (5% CO2: 0.243 ± 0.145 vs. RA: 0.906 ± 0.672, p = 0.017). An incomplete ventilatory compensation probably accounts for the increased HF contribution.


Heart Rate Variability Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia High Frequency Component Muscle Sympathetic Nerve Activity Respiratory Acidosis 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. J. Brown
    • 1
  • R. Howden
    • 2
  1. 1.Massey UniversityAucklandNZ
  2. 2.National Institute of Environmental Health SciencesLaboratory of Respiratory BiologyNorth CarolinaUSA

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