Comparison of Spontaneous versus Paced Breathing on Heart Rate Variability at High Altitude CC11-CC15
Dr. Christopher J Boos,
Longfleet Road, Poole, United Kingdom.
Introduction: There is conflicting data at sea-level to suggest that Paced Breathing (PB) versus Spontaneous Breathing (SB) during short-term Heart Rate Variability (HRV) measurement improves data reliability.
Aim: This study sought to examine the effects of SB versus PB on HRV, at High Altitude (HA).
Materials and Methods: This was a prospective observational study on thirty healthy adult men who were investigated over nine days at altitudes of 800-4107 m. Cardiac inter-beat interval data were measured over 55 seconds, twice daily, using an ithlete finger sensor linked to a mobile phone to generate a HRV score. Agreements in the paired (SB vs PB) HRV scores were examined using paired t-tests, correlation coefficients and F-Testing. A factorial repeated measures ANOVA was used to examine the main effect of altitude and breathing method on the paired differences in HRV scores.
Results: HA led to a significant reduction in SpO2 and increase in Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) Scores. HRV scores (511 paired scores) were consistently higher with PB versus SB (mean difference +6.0; 96.1% within 95% agreement limit), though the variance was lower (F=1.2; p=0.04) and the scores strongly correlated (r=0.78; p<0.0001). HRV scores were lower with AMS (versus without AMS), but this difference was only significant with SB (68.1±12.1 vs. 74.3±11.4 vs; p=0.03) but not PB (76.3±11.8 vs. 80.3±10.4 vs; p=0.13). There was a significant main-effect for altitude (F=5.3; p<0.0001) and breathing (F=262.1; p<0.0001) on HRV scores but no altitude-x-breathing interaction (F=1.2; p=0.30).
Conclusion: Ithlete HRV scores obtained with PB and SB strongly correlate at moderate HA but are consistently higher and the variance lower with PB. Whilst the actual per se does not affect this difference, the presence of AMS may be an important confounder.