Objectives. The aim of this study was to determine the relation between autonomic control of heart rate and the spontaneous occurrence and inducibility of ventricular arrhythmias in patients with coronary artery disease. Background. Low heart rate variability increases the risk of arrhythmic events. It is not known whether impaired autonomic heart rate control reflects alterations in functional factors that contribute to the initiation of spontaneous arrhythmias or whether it is the consequence of an anatomic substrate for reentrant tachyarrhythmias. Methods. Fifty-four patients with coronary artery disease with a history of sustained ventricular tachycardia (n = 25) or cardiac arrest (n = 29) were studied by 24-h ambulatory electrocardiographic recording and by programmed electrical stimulation. Heart rate variability was compared among the patients with and without spontaneous ventricular arrhythmias and with and without inducibility of sustained ventricular tachyarrhythmias. Results. Eight patients had a total of 21 episodes of sustained ventricular tachycardia on Holter recordings. Standard deviation of RR intervals and low frequency and very low frequency components of heart rate variability were significantly blunted in patients with sustained ventricular tachycardias compared with those without repetitive ventricular ectopic activity (p < 0.05, p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, respectively). However, no significant alterations were observed in heart rate variability before the onset of 21 episodes of sustained ventricular tachycardia. Heart rate variability did not differ between the patients with or without nonsustained episodes of ventricular tachycardia. In patients with frequent ventricular ectopic activity, low frequency and very low frequency power components were significantly blunted compared with those with infrequent ventricular ectopic activity (p < 0.01 and p < 0.001, respectively). Heart rate variability did not differ significantly between the patients with and without inducible sustained ventricular tachyarrhythmias. Conclusions. Impaired very low and low frequency oscillation of heart rate reflects susceptibility to the spontaneous occurrence of ventricular arrhythmias but may not reflect the instantaneous triggers for life-threatening arrhythmias or a specific marker of the arrhythmic substrate for ventricular tachyarrhythmias.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine