Vagal modulation and aging

Ronald Edmond De Meersman, Phyllis K. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


Cardiovascular disease accounts for approximately 30% of all deaths worldwide, and will only worsen as the world's population ages. It is well-established that age, per se, is a major risk factor and contributor to all cardiovascular morbidities and mortalities. However, environmental factors, including a lack of exercise, appear to play a critical role in the onset and progression of cardiovascular disease. This paper reviews the literature on cardiac variability and aging and addresses risk factors associated with aging that can be modified and possibly attenuate the decline of heart rate variability with aging, including exercise training to increase vagal modulation. Thus, results of the studies described in this review support a potential benefit of increasing or maintaining fitness in order to slow the decline of parasympathetic control of HR with normal aging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-173
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2007


  • Aging
  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Cardiac vagal control
  • Cardiac vagal tone
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Exercise
  • Heart rate variability
  • Vagal modulation and aging


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