Differences in heart rate responses to upright posture are associated with variations in the high-frequency power of heart rate variability

Heidi Bouquin, Jenni Koskela, Antti Tikkakoski, Milja Honkonen, Timo P. Hiltunen, Jukka Mustonen, Ilkka Pörsti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


High resting heart rate is a cardiovascular risk factor, but limited data exist on the underlying hemodynamics and reproducibility of supine-to-upright increase in heart rate. We recorded noninvasive hemodynamics in 574 volunteers [age, 44.9 yr; body mass index (BMI), 26.4 kg/m2; 49% male] during passive head-up tilt (HUT) using whole body impedance cardiography and radial artery tonometry. Heart rate regulation was evaluated using heart rate variability (HRV) analyses. Comparisons were made between quartiles of supine-to-upright heart rate changes, in which heart rate at rest ranged 62.6-64.8 beats/min (P = 0.285). The average upright increases in heart rate in the quartiles 1-4 were 4.7, 9.9, 13.5, and 21.0 beats/min, respectively (P < 0.0001). No differences were observed in the low-frequency power of HRV, whether in the supine or upright position, or in the high-frequency power of HRV in the supine position. Upright high-frequency power of HRV was highest in quartile 1 with lowest upright heart rate and lowest in quartile 4 with highest upright heart rate. Mean systolic blood pressure before and during HUT (126 vs. 108 mmHg) and the increase in systemic vascular resistance during HUT (650 vs. 173 dyn·s/cm5/m2) were highest in quartile 1 and lowest in quartile 4. The increases in heart rate during HUT on three separate occasions several weeks apart were highly reproducible (r = 0.682) among 215 participants. To conclude, supine-to-upright increase in heart rate is a reproducible phenotype with underlying differences in the modulation of cardiac parasympathetic tone and systemic vascular resistance. As heart rate at rest influences prognosis, future research should elucidate the prognostic significance of these phenotypic differences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H479-H489
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart And Circulatory Physiology
Issue number3
Early online date22 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Head-up tilt
  • Heart rate
  • Phenotype

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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