Purpose: To evaluate the effects of weight loss on heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) parameters in overweight postmenopausal women. Design and Methods: Forty-nine overweight postmenopausal women with an average body mass index of 28.8 1.9 kg/m2 underwent a 12-week dietary weight-loss programme. Accepted variables for characterization of HRV were analysed before and after the weight loss by 24-h ambulatory ECG monitoring; mean and standard deviation for the time between normal-to-normal complexes (MeanNN and SDNN, respectively), and the mean of standard deviations of normal-to-normal intervals for each 5-min period (SDNNindex). Baseline body fat mass (FM%) and changes in body composition was determined by dual X-ray absorptiometry. Before and after the weight-loss period, total abdominal fat, intra-abdominal fat (IAAT), and subcutaneous abdominal fat (SCAT) were measured by single-slice MRI at L3. Results: The weight loss of 3.9 2.0 kg was accompanied by an improvement of HRV. SDNN increased by 9.2% (p ¼ 0.003) and SDNNindex increased by 11.4% (p ¼ 0.0003). MeanNN increased by 2.4%, reflecting a decrease in mean heart rate from 74.1 to 72.3 beats/min (p ¼ 0.033). Systolic blood pressure (SBP) decreased by 2.7%, total cholesterol by 5.1% and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) by 15.8% (p ¼ 0.002). Improvements in SDNN and cholesterol were correlated with weight loss (r ¼ 0.329, p ¼ 0.024 and r ¼ 0.327, p ¼ 0.020, respectively) but changes in HR, SBP, and hsCRP were not. IAAT and the IAAT/SCAT-ratio were found to be negatively associated with HRV parameters but changes in body composition were not associated with changes in HRV. Conclusions: The observed improvement of HRV seems to be facilitated by weight loss. IAAT and the IAAT/SCAT ratio were found to be associated with low HRV.
European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 2013, Vol 20, Issue 4, p. 671-677