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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Heart Rate, Autonomic Function, and Future Changes in Glucose Metabolism in Individuals Without Diabetes: The Whitehall II Cohort Study

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OBJECTIVE: Autonomic nervous system dysfunction is associated with impaired glucose metabolism, but the temporality of this association remains unclear in individuals without diabetes. We investigated the association of autonomic function with 5-year changes in glucose metabolism in individuals without diabetes.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Analyses were based on 9,000 person-examinations for 3,631 participants without diabetes in the Whitehall II cohort. Measures of autonomic function included 5-min resting heart rate and six heart rate variability (HRV) indices. Associations between baseline autonomic function measures and 5-year changes in fasting and 2-h plasma glucose, serum insulin concentrations, insulin sensitivity (insulin sensitivity index [ISI0-120] and HOMA of insulin sensitivity), and β-cell function (HOMA of β-cell function) were estimated in models adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, metabolic factors, and medication.

RESULTS: A 10-bpm higher resting heart rate was associated with 5-year changes in fasting and 2-h insulin and ISI0-120 of 3.3% change (95% CI 1.8; 4.8), P < 0.001; 3.3% change (1.3; 5.3), P = 0.001; and -1.4% change (-2.4; -0.3), P = 0.009, respectively. In models adjusted for age, sex, and ethnicity, higher baseline values of several HRV indices were associated with a 5-year decrease in fasting and 2-h insulin and ISI0-120. However, significance was lost by full adjustment. A majority of HRV indices exhibited a trend toward higher values being associated with lower insulin levels and higher insulin sensitivity.

CONCLUSIONS: Higher resting heart rate in individuals without diabetes is associated with future unfavorable changes in insulin levels and insulin sensitivity. Associations may be mediated via autonomic function; however, results are inconclusive. Resting heart rate may be a risk marker for future pathophysiological changes in glucose metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDiabetes Care
Volume42
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)867-874
Number of pages8
ISSN1935-5548
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

ID: 57063513