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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2018 September;58(9):1349-53

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.17.07539-9


language: English

Heart rate response and recovery in wheelchair tetraplegic rugby athletes: a pilot study

Michelle C. COUTINHO 1, Patrícia S. VIGÁRIO 1, Agnaldo J. LOPES 1, 2, Fernando S. GUIMARÃES 1, 3

1 Rehabilitation Sciences Graduate Program, Augusto Motta University Center, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; 2 School of Medical Sciences, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; 3 Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Physical Therapy Department, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


BACKGROUND: Subjects with spinal cord injuries (SCI) have impaired autonomic cardiac regulation and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. In face of the insufficient research data on the autonomic control of physically active subjects with SCI, this study aimed at describing the chronotropic response, as well as the heart rate recovery behavior of a cohort of elite wheelchair rugby athletes.
METHODS: This is a cross-sectional study including a convenience sample of 17 elite wheelchair rugby athletes with tetraplegia. The subjects underwent a maximal arm ergometry exercise test. Heart rate (HR) was computed at five time points: at rest (before the test), peak exercise, and 1, 2, and 3 minutes after exercise. Data distribution was assessed by using the Shapiro-Wilk Test and correlations were measured by Pearson’s correlation coefficient. The level of statistical significance was set at P<0.05.
RESULTS: The subjects presented with HR at rest=69.53±8.3 bpm; HR reserve=66.9±8.3%; Chronotropic Index=47.9±11.8%; HRR at 1’=15.2±7.5 bpm; HRR at 2’=25.2±7.4 bpm; HRR at 3’=37±8.4 bpm. 82.3% of the athletes had HRR at 1’>12 bpm, and 64.7% had HRR at 2”> 22 bpm. There were associations between duration of injury and HRR at 1’ (r=-0.5; P=0.0398), peak HR (HRpeak) and total weekly training time (r=-0.591; P=0.0125) and HRpeak and weekly physical training time (r=-0.519; P=0.032).
CONCLUSIONS: Tetraplegic elite athletes present with reduced chronotropic response. Most of them exhibit an HRR within the values considered normal for the general population.

KEY WORDS: Heart rate - Autonomic nervous systems - Spinal cord injuries - Exercise - Sports for persons with disabilities

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