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Hypoxia is a physiological state characterized by reduced oxygen levels in organs and tissues. It is a common clinicopathological process and a major cause of health problems in highland areas.  Heart rate variability (HRV) is a measure of the balance in autonomic innervation to the heart. It provides valuable information on the regulation of the cardiovascular system by neurohumoral factors, and changes in HRV reflect the complex interactions between multiple systems. In this review, we provide a comprehensive overview of the relationship between high-altitude hypoxia and HRV. We summarize the different mechanisms of diseases caused by hypoxia and explore the changes in HRV across various systems. Additionally, we discuss relevant pharmaceutical interventions. Overall, this review aims to provide research ideas and assistance for in-depth studies on HRV. By understanding the intricate relationship between high-altitude hypoxia and HRV, we can gain insights into the underlying mechanisms and potential therapeutic approaches to mitigate the effects of hypoxia on cardiovascular and other systems. The relevant literature was collected systematically from scientific database, including PubMed, Web of Science, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), Baidu Scholar, as well as other literature sources, such as classic books of hypoxia. There is a close relationship between heart rate variability and high-altitude hypoxia. Heart rate variability is an indicator that evaluates the impact of hypoxia on the cardiovascular system and other related systems. By improving the observation of HRV, we can estimate the progress of cardiovascular diseases and predict the impact on other systems related to cardiovascular health. At the same time, changes in heart rate variability can be used to observe the efficacy of preventive drugs for altitude related diseases. HRV can be used to assess autonomic nervous function under various systemic conditions, and can be used to predict and monitor diseases caused by hypoxia at high altitude. Investigating the correlation between high altitude hypoxia and heart rate variability can help make HRV more rapid, accurate, and effective for the diagnosis of plateau-related diseases.


Jun Hou, Keji Lu, Peiwen Chen, Peng Wang, Jing Li, Jiali Yang, Qing Liu, Qiang Xue, Zhaobing Tang, Haifeng Pei. Comprehensive viewpoints on heart rate variability at high altitude. Clinical and experimental hypertension (New York, N.Y. : 1993). 2023 Dec 31;45(1):2238923

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PMID: 37552638

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