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Stroke. 2004 Sep;35(9):2094-8. Epub 2004 Jul 22.

Cardiac autonomic derangement and arrhythmias in right-sided stroke with insular involvement.

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Cardiovascular Department, San Filippo Neri Hospital, Rome, Italy.



The insula of the right cerebral hemisphere may have a major role in cardiac autonomic control. This study was aimed at assessing the effects of acute right insular ischemic damage on heart rate variability (HRV) and arrhythmias.


Holter monitoring for 24 hours was performed in 103 consecutive patients with first-ever acute ischemic stroke. Time and frequency domain measures of HRV and arrhythmias were considered in all cases.


Forty-nine patients (47.5%) had a right-sided infarction, whereas 54 (52.5%) had a left-sided infarction. Insular involvement was present in 33 patients with right-sided stroke (67.3%) and in 36 patients with left-sided stroke (66.6%). When compared with all other stroke patients, subjects with right-sided insular damage showed significantly lower values of the standard deviation of all normal-to-normal (SDNN) R wave to R wave (RR) intervals and of the root mean square of differences (rMSSD) of adjacent normal-to-normal RR intervals, and higher low-frequency/high-frequency ratio values (P<0.05). Right insular stroke was also associated with more complex arrhythmias than any other localization (P<0.05). Moreover, in the whole population of stroke patients, lower values of SDNN were associated with the presence of more frequent and complex arrhythmias.


These findings further support the notion that the right insula is implicated in the autonomic control of cardiac activity and that acute right insular damage may lead to a derangement of cardiac function with potential prognostic implications.

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