Measuring psychosocial stress with heart rate variability-based methods in different health and age groups
Seipäjärvi, S. M., Tuomola, A., Juurakko, J., Rottensteiner, M., Rissanen, A.-P. E., Kurkela, J. L. O., Kujala, U. M., Laukkanen, J. A., & Wikgren, J. (2022). Measuring psychosocial stress with heart rate variability-based methods in different health and age groups. Physiological Measurement, 43(5), Article 055002. https://doi.org/10.1088/1361-6579/ac6b7c
Published inPhysiological Measurement
© Authors, 2022
Objective. Autonomic nervous system function and thereby bodily stress and recovery reactions may be assessed by wearable devices measuring heart rate (HR) and its variability (HRV). So far, the validity of HRV-based stress assessments has been mainly studied in healthy populations. In this study, we determined how psychosocial stress affects physiological and psychological stress responses in both young (18–30 years) and middle-aged (45–64 years) healthy individuals as well as in patients with arterial hypertension and/or either prior evidence of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. We also studied how an HRV-based stress index (Relax-Stress Intensity, RSI) relates to perceived stress (PS) and cortisol (CRT) responses during psychosocial stress. Approach. A total of 197 participants were divided into three groups: (1) healthy young (HY, N = 63), (2) healthy middle-aged (HM, N = 61) and (3) patients with cardiometabolic risk factors (Pts, N = 73, 32–65 years). The participants underwent a group version of Trier Social Stress Test (TSST-G). HR, HRV (quantified as root mean square of successive differences of R–R intervals, RMSSD), RSI, PS, and salivary CRT were measured regularly during TSST-G and a subsequent recovery period. Main results. All groups showed significant stress reactions during TSST-G as indicated by significant responses of HR, RMSSD, RSI, PS, and salivary CRT. Between-group differences were also observed in all measures. Correlation and regression analyses implied RSI being the strongest predictor of CRT response, while HR was more closely associated with PS. Significance. The HRV-based stress index mirrors responses of CRT, which is an independent marker for physiological stress, around TSST-G. Thus, the HRV-based stress index may be used to quantify physiological responses to psychosocial stress across various health and age groups. ...
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Additional information about fundingThe HealthBeat project was implemented in cooperation between the University of Jyväskylä (Department of Psychology and Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences), Central Finland Health Care District, and Firstbeat Technologies Ltd. The study was funded by Business Finland (Grant 2697/31/2018) and Firstbeat Technologies Ltd (Jyväskylä, Finland).
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