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Anesthesiology. 1992 Oct;77(4):669-74.

Spectral analysis of heart rate variability during isoflurane anesthesia.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Nagoya University School of Medicine, Japan.

Erratum in

  • Anesthesiology 1993 Jan;78(1):224.


The autonomic nervous system is an important neural control system for maintaining cardiovascular stability in humans. Analysis of heart rate variations may provide important clinical information on the influence of anesthesia on the autonomic nervous system and the central nervous system. Therefore, the effects of 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 minimum alveolar concentrations of isoflurane anesthesia on beat-to-beat heart rate variations were studied in ten patients (ASA Physical Status 1). Spectral analysis was used to determine the intensity of the variations. For each power spectrum, the frequency components were identified as follows: 1) the parasympathetically mediated respiratory component (0.15-0.4 Hz) and 2) both parasympathetically and sympathetically mediated components (0.04-0.15 Hz). The latter was subdivided into the low-frequency component (0.04-0.09 Hz) of vasomotor origin and the mid-frequency component (0.09-0.15 Hz) of baroreceptor origin. Marked reductions in the power of heart rate variations, at all frequencies, were found during isoflurane anesthesia, indicating isoflurane decreased total autonomic nervous system activity. Isoflurane decreased the high-frequency and mid-frequency components in a concentration-dependent manner. The low-frequency component increased transiently at 1.5 minimum alveolar concentrations concomitant with the burst suppression in the electroencephalogram. The ratio of mid-frequency to high-frequency components did not change significantly during isoflurane anesthesia compared with the awake period. These frequency characteristics of heart rate variations during isoflurane anesthesia suggest there are dose-related decreases in autonomic nervous system activity in both the vagus and the cardiac sympathetic nerves.

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