Young patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) display an attenuated heart rate recovery (HRR) during the first minute (HRR-1) and the first 2 min (HRR-2) postexercise. We sought to compare determinants of HRR-1 and HRR-2 in OSAS and to assess whether these associations depend on age.
Exercise testing with measurements of HRR-1 and HRR-2 was performed in 54 patients with untreated OSAS (median [interquartile range] apnea-hypopnea index 27.5 [12.0-42.4] h−1, desaturation index [DSI] 10.6 [5.1-25.0] h−1).
Overall, higher DSI (P < .001) and higher total cholesterol ([TC] P = .02) were independent predictors of lower HRR-1, whereas lower peak heart rate (P < .001), higher resting heart rate (P = .006), and higher DSI (P = .01) were independently associated with lower HRR-2. In the below-median age group (age ≤ 48 years; n = 27), higher DSI (P = .002) was the only independent predictor of lower HRR-1, and lower peak heart rate (P < .001) and higher DSI (P = .003) were independently associated with lower HRR-2. In contrast, in the above-median age group (age > 48 years; n = 27) higher TC (P = .006), higher insulin resistance (P = .009), and higher resting heart rate (P = .048) were independently associated with lower HRR-1, and lower estimated glomerular filtration rate (P = .001), higher resting heart rate (P = .002), higher TC (P = .005), and lower peak heart rate (P = .01) were independently associated with HRR-2.
Assessment of HRR-2 provides additional information on different aspects of OSAS compared with HRR-1. Markers of OSAS severity, such as DSI, are independently associated with HRR in younger patients only, whereas in older patients, HRR reflects OSAS-related metabolic and renal dysfunction.