Effects of COVID-19 lockdown on heart rate variability
Introduction Strict lockdown rules were imposed to the French population from 17 March to 11 May 2020, which may result in limited possibilities of physical activity, modified psychological and health states. This report is focused on HRV parameters kinetics before, during and after this lockdown period. Methods 95 participants were included in this study (27 women, 68 men, 37 ± 11 years, 176 ± 8 cm, 71 ± 12 kg), who underwent regular orthostatic tests (a 5-minute supine followed by a 5-minute
... owed by a 5-minute standing recording of heart rate (HR)) on a regular basis before (BSL), during (CFN) and after (RCV) the lockdown. HR, power in low- and high-frequency bands (LF, HF, respectively) and root mean square of the successive differences (RMSSD) were computed for each orthostatic test, and for each position. Subjective well-being was assessed on a 0–10 visual analogic scale (VAS). The participants were split in two groups, those who reported an improved well-being (WB+, increase >2 in VAS score) and those who did not (WB-) during CFN. Results Out of the 95 participants, 19 were classified WB+ and 76 WB-. There was an increase in HR and a decrease in RMSSD when measured supine in CFN and RCV, compared to BSL in WB-, whilst opposite results were found in WB+ (i.e. decrease in HR and increase in RMSSD in CFN and RCV; increase in LF and HF in RCV). When pooling data of the three phases, there were significant correlations between VAS and HR, RMSSD, HF, respectively, in the supine position; the higher the VAS score (i.e., subjective well-being), the higher the RMSSD and HF and the lower the HR. In standing position, HRV parameters were not modified during CFN but RMSSD was correlated to VAS. Conclusion Our results suggest that the strict COVID-19 lockdown likely had opposite effects on French population as 20% of participants improved parasympathetic activation (RMSSD, HF) and rated positively this period, whilst 80% showed altered responses and deteriorated well-being. The changes in HRV parameters during and after the lockdown period were in line with subjective well-being responses. The observed recordings may reflect a large variety of responses (anxiety, anticipatory stress, change on physical activity...) beyond the scope of the present study. However, these results confirmed the usefulness of HRV as a non-invasive means for monitoring well-being and health in this population.