Effect of exercise on cardiac autonomic function in females with rheumatoid arthritisReport as inadecuate

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Clinical Rheumatology

, Volume 31, Issue 8, pp 1155–1162

First Online: 19 April 2012Received: 02 December 2011Revised: 05 March 2012Accepted: 30 March 2012


The objective of this study is to evaluate the effect of exercise on cardiac autonomic function as measured by short-term heart rate variability HRV in females suffering from rheumatoid arthritis RA. Females with confirmed RA were randomly assigned to an exercise group RAE and a sedentary group RAC. RAE was required to train under supervision two to three times per week, for 3 months. Three techniques time domain, frequency domain and Poincaré plot analyses were used to measure HRV at baseline and study completion. At baseline, RAC n = 18 had a significantly higher variability compared to RAE n = 19 for most HRV indicators. At study completion, the variables showing significant changes p = 0.01 to 0.05 favoured RAE in all instances. Wilcoxon signed rank tests were performed to assess changes within groups from start to end. RAE showed significant improvement for most of the standing variables, including measurements of combined autonomic influence, e.g. SDRR p = 0.002 and variables indicating only vagal influence, e.g. pNN50 p = 0.014. RAC mostly deteriorated with emphasis on variables measuring vagal influence RMSSD, pNN50, SD1 and HF ms. Study results indicated that 12 weeks of exercise intervention had a positive effect on cardiac autonomic function as measured by short-term HRV, in females with RA. Several of the standing variables indicated improved vagal influence on the heart rate. Exercise can thus potentially be used as an instrument to improve cardiac health in a patient group known for increased cardiac morbidity.

KeywordsAutonomic function Exercise Heart rate variability Rheumatoid arthritis  Download fulltext PDF

Author: Dina C. Janse van Rensburg - James A Ker - Catharina C Grant - Lizelle Fletcher

Source: https://link.springer.com/


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