Postprandial changes of sympathovagal balance measured by heart rate variability

C. L. Lu, X. Zou, W. C. Orr, J. D.Z. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


The aim of this study was to investigate the sympathovagal balance after meals by measuring the spectral analysis of heart rate variability (HRV). Nine healthy volunteers were enrolled in this study. The electrocardiogram (ECG) was recorded for 30 min in a fasting state and 60 min after a 500-kcal test meal. The HRV was derived from the ECG and was measured by power spectral analysis using fast-Fourier transform algorithm. It reveals two dominant spectral components. The low-frequency (LF) band reflects primarily sympathetic activity with some parasympathetic input. The high-frequency (HF) band is a reflection of parasympathetic (vagal) activity. The LF-to-HF ratio is considered a marker of sympathovagal balance. It was found that the postprandial LF-to-HF ratio, compared with the fasting state, was significantly increased at both the first 30 min (2.50 ± 0.49 vs 1.78 ± 0.33, P < 0.05) and the second 30 min (2.68 ± 0.55 vs 1.78 ± 0.33, P < 0.05). The postprandial HF diminished significantly at both the first (16.0 ± 0.5 vs 21.8 ± 4.2, P < 0.05) and the second (13.8 ± 9.5 vs 21.8 ±. 4.2, P < 0.05) 30-min period. In conclusion, the postprandial sympathovagal ratio shows a sustained elevation lasting 1 hr, mainly attributed to diminished vagal activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)857-861
Number of pages5
JournalDigestive diseases and sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Heart rate variability
  • Postprandial changes
  • Stomach
  • Vagal activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Gastroenterology


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