Cortisol Levels and Autonomic Control of Heart Rate in Healthy Subjects

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Introduction: There is an increase in level of stress in the general population because of the social, personal and professional demands. Currently, there are only simple tools that can safely measure this stress such as levels of cortisol and heart rate variability (HRV). Objective: To analyze the relationship between salivary cortisol and the cardiac autonomic modulation. Methods: A total of fifty-one male and female subjects between 18 and 40 years old were evaluated. Saliva collection was achieved for the salivary cortisol dosage. The collection was performed through the SalivetteR tube. After this collection, the median cortisol levels (0.24 ug/dl) were analyzed and the volunteers were divided into two groups: i) cortisol below the mediane ii) cortisol above the median. After this division, each group consisted of 25 volunteers and then was verified the following information: age, gender, weight, height, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure. Shortly thereafter was assessment of cardiac autonomic modulation por meio da HRV. The Polar RS800cx heart rate receiver was placed on the chest of the volunteers, in the vicinity of the distal third of the sternum. The volunteers were instructed to remain in rest with spontaneous breathing in dorsal position for 20 minutes. HRV analysis included geometric, time and frequency domain indices. Results: There were no statistical differences for the two groups regarding systolic and diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, RR intervals or linear and frequency indices for the volunteers. In addition, also there was no correlation the cortisol with the analyzed variables (SAP, p=0.460; DAP, p = 0.270; HR, p = 0.360; RR, p = 0.380; SDNN, p = 0.510; rMSSD, p = 0.660; pNN50, p = 0.820; RRtri, p = 0.170; TINN, p = 0.470; SD1, p = 0.650; SD2, p = 0.500; LF [ms2], p = 0.880; LF [nu], p = 0.970; HF [ms2], p = 0.870; HF [nu], p = 0.960; LF/HF, p = 0.380 Conclusion: Heart rate variability autonomic control was unchanged in healthy subjects with physiological distribution of salivary cortisol levels. There was no association between normal salivary cortisol and resting autonomic regulation of heart rate.

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