Reduced heart rate (HR) variability is associated with increased risk of cardiac arrest in patients with coronary artery disease. In this study, the power spectral components of HR variability and their circadian pattern in 22 survivors of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest not associated with acute myocardial infarction were compared with those of 22 control patients matched with respect to age, sex, previous myocardial infarction, ejection fraction and number of diseased coronary arteries. Survivors of cardiac arrest had significantly lower 24-hour average standard deviation of RR intervals than control patients (29 ± 10 vs 51 ±15 ms, p < 0.001), and the 24-hour mean high frequency spectral area was also lower in survivors of cardiac arrest than in control patients (13 ± 7 ms2 × 10 vs 28 ± 14 ms2 × 10, p < 0.01). In a single cosinor analysis, a significant circadian rhythm of HR variability was observed in both groups with the acrophase of standard deviation of RR intervals and high-frequency spectral area occurring between 3 and 6 A.M. which was followed by an abrupt decrease in HR variability after arousal. The amplitude of the circadian rhythm of HR variability did not differ between the groups. Thus, HR variability is reduced in survivors of cardiac arrest but its circadian rhythm is maintained so that a very low HR variability is observed in the morning after awakening, corresponding to the time period at which the incidence of sudden cardiac death is highest.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine