BACKGROUND: Postexercise heart rate recovery (HRR) is a non-invasive tool for cardiac autonomic function assessment. Reproducibility of HRR has been established in healthy subjects; however, no study has evaluated this reproducibility in clinical populations who may present autonomic dysfunction. Patients with peripheral artery disease and intermittent claudication (IC) often present altered cardiac autonomic function and HRR could be an interesting tool for evaluating autonomic responses to interventions in this population. Therefore, the reproducibility of HRR should be determined in this specific population.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the reproducibility of HRR indices in patients with IC.
METHODS: Nineteen men with IC underwent two repeated maximal treadmill tests. Raw HR and relative HRR (difference to exercise peak) indices measured at 30, 60, 120, 180, 240 and 300s of recovery were evaluated. The presence of systematic bias was assessed by comparing test and retest mean values via paired t-test. Reliability was assessed by intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), and agreement by typical error (TE), coefficient of variation (CV) and minimal detectable difference (MDD).
RESULTS: There were no significant differences between the test and retest values of all raw HR and relative HRR indices (P ≥ 0·05), except for HR120s (P = 0·032). All indices exhibited excellent reliability (ICC ≥ 0·78). Raw HR and relative HRR indices showed TEs ≤ 6·4 bpm and MDDs ≤ 17·8 bpm. In addition, all indices showed CVs ≤ 13·2%, except HRR30s (CV = 45·6%).
CONCLUSIONS: The current results demonstrated that most HRR indices were highly reproducible with no systematic error, excellent reliability and good agreement in patients with IC following maximal graded exercise.