Article Text

other Versions

Download PDFPDF
Original article
A community study of the effect of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolites on heart rate variability based on the Framingham risk score
  1. Yingying Feng1,
  2. Huizhen Sun1,
  3. Yuanchao Song1,
  4. Junzhe Bao1,
  5. Xiji Huang1,
  6. Jian Ye1,
  7. Jing Yuan1,
  8. Weihong Chen1,
  9. David C Christiani2,
  10. Tangchun Wu1,
  11. Xiaomin Zhang1
  1. 1Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
  2. 2Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Xiaomin Zhang, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, 13 Hangkong Road, Wuhan, 430030, China; mingxz117{at}


Objectives To investigate the effects of the urinary metabolite profiles of background exposure to the atmospheric pollutants polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) and Framingham risk score (FRS), which assesses an individual's cardiovascular disease risk, on heart rate variability (HRV).

Methods The study conducted from April to May 2011 in Wuhan, China, included 1978 adult residents with completed questionnaires, physical examinations, blood and urine samples, and 5-min HRV indices (including SD of all normal to normal intervals (SDNN), root mean square successive difference (rMSSD), low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF) and their ratio (LF/HF), and total power) obtained from 3-channel Holter monitor. 12 urinary PAH metabolites were measured by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. FRS was calculated by age, sex, lipid profiles, blood pressure, diabetes and smoking status. Linear regression models were constructed after adjusting for potential confounders.

Results Elevated total concentration of hydroxynaphthalene (ΣOHNa) was significantly associated, in a dose–responsive manner, with decreased SDNN and LF/HF (ptrend=0.014 and 0.007, respectively); elevated total concentration of hydroxyfluorene (ΣOHFlu) was significantly associated with reduced SDNN, LF and LF/HF (ptrend=0.027, 0.003, and <0.0001, respectively); and elevated total concentration of all PAH metabolites (ΣOH-PAHs) was associated with decreased LF and LF/HF (ptrend=0.005 and <0.0001, respectively). Moreover, increasing quartiles of FRS were significantly associated with decreased HRV indices, except LF/HF (all ptrend<0.0001). Interestingly, individuals in low-risk subgroups had greater decreases in SDNN, LF and LF/HF in relation to ΣOH-PAHs, ΣOHNa and ΣOHFlu than those in high-risk subgroups (all p<0.05).

Conclusions Environmental PAH exposure may differentially affect HRV based on individual coronary risk profiles.

  • Framingham risk score
  • heart rate variability

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.