Cardiac autonomic control and the effects of age, race, and sex: The CARDIA study

Richard P. Sloan*, Mei Hua Huang, Heather McCreath, Stephen Sidney, Kiang Liu, O. Dale Williams, Teresa Seeman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Background: Stratification variables of age, race, and sex figure prominently in the assessment of cardiovascular disease risk. Similarly, cardiac autonomic regulation, measured by RR interval variability (RRV), is associated with risk. The relationship among these variables is unclear. Methods: We examined the cross-sectional relationship between RRV and age, race, and sex in 757 subjects from the NHLBI-funded Coronary Artery Disease in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study. Results: Age was a significant determinant of RRV, despite the narrow range (33-47): participants aged 33-39 years had had greater levels of HF power, LF power, and standard deviation (SD) of RR intervals than did those aged 40-47 years. There was no age effect for the LF/HF ratio. Compared to whites, blacks had lower levels of LF power, SD, and lower LF/HF. Blacks and whites did not differ in HF power. Finally, compared to men, women had lower levels of LF power, SD, and LF/HF but did not differ in HF power. Conclusions: Data from the CARDIA study suggest that in adults in the 33-47 year age range, indices of RRV were greater in younger compared to older subjects, in men compared to women and in whites compared to blacks. These findings are broadly consistent with those of other large studies examining relationships between RRV and age, sex, and race. However, patterns of associations between RRV and these stratification variables are not entirely consistent with an underlying autonomic physiology linked to cardioprotection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-85
Number of pages8
JournalAutonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 30 2008


  • Age
  • Community study
  • Parasympathetic nervous system
  • Race
  • Sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Cardiac autonomic control and the effects of age, race, and sex: The CARDIA study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this