Role of Body Mass and Physical Activity in Autonomic Function Modulation on Post-COVID-19 Condition: An Observational Subanalysis of Fit-COVID Study

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The harmful effects of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can reach the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and endothelial function. Therefore, the detrimental multiorgan effects of COVID-19 could be induced by deregulations in ANS that may persist after the acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. Additionally, investigating the differences in ANS response in overweight/obese, and physically inactive participants who had COVID-19 compared to those who did not have the disease is necessary. The aim of the study was to analyze the autonomic function of young adults after mild-to-moderate infection with SARS-CoV-2 and to assess whether body mass index (BMI) and levels of physical activity modulates autonomic function in participants with and without COVID-19. Patients previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 and healthy controls were recruited for this cross-sectional observational study. A general anamnesis was taken, and BMI and physical activity levels were assessed. The ANS was evaluated through heart rate variability. A total of 57 subjects were evaluated. Sympathetic nervous system activity in the post-COVID-19 group was increased (stress index; p = 0.0273). They also presented lower values of parasympathetic activity (p < 0.05). Overweight/obese subjects in the post-COVID-19 group presented significantly lower parasympathetic activity and reduced global variability compared to non-obese in control group (p < 0.05). Physically inactive subjects in the post-COVID-19 group presented significantly higher sympathetic activity than active subjects in the control group. Parasympathetic activity was significantly increased in physically active subjects in the control group compared to the physically inactive post-COVID-19 group (p < 0.05). COVID-19 promotes changes in the ANS of young adults, and these changes are modulated by overweight/obesity and physical activity levels.




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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, v. 19, n. 4, 2022.

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