Assessment of autonomic function by long-term heart rate variability: beyond the classical framework of LF and HF measurements

Junichiro Hayano, Emi Yuda

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


In the assessment of autonomic function by heart rate variability (HRV), the framework that the power of high-frequency component or its surrogate indices reflects parasympathetic activity, while the power of low-frequency component or LF/HF reflects sympathetic activity has been used as the theoretical basis for the interpretation of HRV. Although this classical framework has contributed greatly to the widespread use of HRV for the assessment of autonomic function, it was obtained from studies of short-term HRV (typically 5‑10 min) under tightly controlled conditions. If it is applied to long-term HRV (typically 24 h) under free-running conditions in daily life, erroneous conclusions could be drawn. Also, long-term HRV could contain untapped useful information that is not revealed in the classical framework. In this review, we discuss the limitations of the classical framework and present studies that extracted autonomic function indicators and other useful biomedical information from long-term HRV using novel approaches beyond the classical framework. Those methods include non-Gaussianity index, HRV sleep index, heart rate turbulence, and the frequency and amplitude of cyclic variation of heart rate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21
JournalJournal of Physiological Anthropology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec


  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Baroreceptor reflex
  • Cyclic variation of heart rate
  • Heart rate turbulence
  • Heart rate variability
  • Mortality
  • Photoplethysmography
  • Pulse rate variability
  • Pulse wave
  • Risk stratification
  • Sleep apnea
  • Sympathetic nervous system


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