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Journal Article


Ebersole KT, Cornell DJ, Flees RJ, Shemelya CM, Noel SE. J. Athl. Train. 2020; ePub(ePub): ePub.


(Copyright © 2020, National Athletic Trainers' Association (USA))






CONTEXT: Sudden cardiac deaths (SCDs) have accounted for nearly half of the line-of-duty deaths among US firefighters over the past 10 years. In 2018, 33% of all SCDs occurred after the end of a fire service call. Researchers have suggested that an imbalance in autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulation of heart rate postcall may interfere with recovery in firefighters.

OBJECTIVE: To use heart-rate recovery (HRR) and heart-rate variability (HRV), 2 noninvasive markers of ANS function, to examine the ANS recovery profiles of firefighters.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.

SETTING: Firehouse and research laboratory.

PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-seven male career active-duty firefighters (age = 39 ± 9 years, height = 178.8 ± 5.4 cm, mass = 87.9 ± 11.2 kg).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Percentage of maximal HR (%MHR) and HRV (natural log of the square root of the mean sum of the squared differences [lnRMSSD]) were collected after both submaximal and maximal exercise protocols during a 10-minute seated recovery. The HRR profiles were examined by calculating the asymptote, amplitude, and decay parameters of the monoexponential HRR curve for each participant.

RESULTS: Differences in HRR parameters after 10 minutes of seated recovery were identified after submaximal versus maximal exercise (P <.001). In addition, although ANS was more suppressed after maximal exercise, HRV indicated incomplete recovery, and regardless of the test, recovery %MHR and lnRMSSD values did not return to pretest %MHR and lnRMSSD values.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that the ANS contributions to recovery in active-duty firefighters are exercise-intensity specific, and this is likely an important factor when establishing best-practice recovery guidelines.

Language: en


blood lactate; heart-rate recovery; heart-rate variability; sympathetic nervous system; vagal reactivation


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