The present study was conducted to assess the nature of sympathovagal imbalance (SVI) in prehypertensives by short-term analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) to understand the alteration in autonomic modulation and the contribution of BMI to SVI in the genesis of prehypertension.
Body mass index (BMI), basal heart rate (BHR), blood pressure (BP), rate pressure product (RPP) and HRV indices such as total power (TP), low-frequency power (LF), normalized LF (LFnu), high-frequency power (HF), normalized HF (HFnu), LF-HF ratio, mean heart rate (mean RR), square root of the mean squared differences of successive normal to normal intervals (RMSSD), standard deviation of normal to normal RR interval (SDNN), the number of interval differences of successive NN intervals greater than 50 ms (NN50) and the proportion derived by dividing NN50 by the total number of NN intervals (pNN50) were assessed in three groups of subjects: normotensives having normal BMI (Group 1), prehypertensives having normal BMI (Group 2) and prehypertensives having higher BMI (Group 3). SVI was assessed from LF-HF ratio and correlated with BMI, BHR, BP and RPP in all the groups by Pearson correlation. The contribution of BMI to SVI was assessed by multiple regression analysis.
LF and LFnu were significantly increased and HF and HFnu were significantly decreased in prehypertensive subjects in comparison to normotensive subjects and the magnitude of these changes was more prominent in subjects with higher BMI compared to that of normal BMI. LF-HF ratio, the sensitive indicator of sympathovagal balance had significant correlation with BMI (P = 0.000) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) (P = 0.002) in prehypertensives. BMI was found to be an independent contributing factor to SVI (P = 0.001) in prehypertensives.
It was concluded that autonomic imbalance in prehypertensives manifested in the form of increased sympathetic activity and vagal inhibition. In prehypertensives with higher BMI, vagal withdrawal was predominant than sympathetic overactivity. Magnitude of SVI (alteration in LF-HF ratio) was linked to changes in BMI and DBP. BMI had an independent influence on LF-HF ratio. It was advised that life-style modifications such as yoga and exercise would enable achieve the sympathovagal balance and blood pressure homeostasis in prehypertensives.