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Eur J Pharmacol. 2001 Sep 21;427(3):227-33.

The time-course of electrocardiographic interbeat interval dynamics in alcoholic subjects after short-term abstinence.

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  • 1Laboratory of Clinical Studies, Unit of Clinical and Biochemical Pharmacology, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH 10/3C103, 10 Center Drive MSC 1256, Bethesda, MD 20892-1256, USA.


Alcohol dependence has been correlated with decreases in heart rate variability. However, the time course of recovery of heart rate variability after cessation of alcohol consumption is unknown. We used electrocardiogram (ECG) data serially obtained from a population of detoxifying alcoholic subjects to determine the Hurst exponent of the ECG interbeat interval time series. Higher values of the Hurst exponent are associated with decreased heart rate variability when H< or =0.5. We tested a series of response-surface models relating the Hurst exponent (H) thus obtained to the following independent variables: the time interval T (days since last use of alcohol), A (age in years at time of admission), and gender. The best-fit model was: H(T)=(KA+H(m)T+H(f)T)/(1+T), F=5.2, P(F)</=0.01. Model parameters were: K=0.008+/-0.002 (mean+/-SEM); asymptotic H-values for males and females: H(m)=0.24+/-0.02 and H(f)=0.16+/-0.03, respectively, significantly different at P< or =0.05. Age was the strongest predictor of initial H-values in this alcoholic population sample.

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