The Effect of Sulphur Dioxide Exposure on Indices of Heart Rate Variability in Normal and Asthmatic Adults

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Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is an important air pollutant and causes bronchoconstriction in normal and asthmatic adults. This paper has explored the autonomic consequences of SO2 exposure using the spectral analysis of heart rate variability. Electrocardiogram recordings were made in 12 normal and 12 asthmatic adults undergoing pollutant exposures. Exposures were of a 1 h duration, double blind, in random order, > or = 2 weeks apart and included air and 200 parts per billion SO2. Spectral analysis of R-R intervals was performed. SO2 exposure was associated with an increase in total power (TP) and high (HF) and low frequency (LF) power in the normal subjects, and a reduction in these indices in the subjects with asthma. The difference in TP with SO2 exposure compared to air was +1730 ms2 in the normal group and -1021 ms2 asthmatic group (p


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)604-608
Number of pages5
JournalThe European respiratory journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2001


  • heart rate variability, sulphur dioxide, health effects, mechanisms, air pollution