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Biol Res Nurs. 2006 Apr;7(4):256-67.

Heart rate variability and 24-hour minimum heart rate.

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Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, School of Nursing, University of Washington, Seattle 98195-7266, USA.


Heart rate variability (HRV) indices based on 24-hr electrocardiograph recordings have been used in clinical research studies to assess the aggregate activity of the autonomic nervous system. Although 24-hr HRV is generally considered noninvasive, use in research protocols typically involves considerable data collection and processing expenses and substantial participant burden. The purposes of this research methods evaluation were to describe the relationships between 24-hr minimum heart rate (HR) and several 24-hr time domain HRV indices (Ln SDNN, Ln SDANN, Ln SDNNIDX, Ln RMSSD, and Logit50) across several research data sets (normal women, normal men, children enrolled in a study of recurrent abdominal pain, women with irritable bowel syndrome, sudden cardiac arrest survivors, and heart failure patients) and to explore the possibility that 24-hr minimum HR might serve as a simpler alternative or adjunct to HRV measures in some situations. The correlations of global HRV measures (e.g., Ln SDNN, Ln SDANN) with 24-hr minimum HR were consistently larger (typical r approximately -.80) than with average HR (typical r approximately -.50). In repeated measurements, change in minimum HR was also correlated with change in general HRV (typical r approximately -.60). However, modest differentiation of minimum HR and HRV measures was noted in patients taking certain classes of cardiac medications (e.g., anti-arrhythmics, beta blockers). Twenty-four-hour minimum HR is correlated with general time domain HRV measures and might be useful as a simpler proxy, surrogate, or auxiliary variable in some clinical research applications, especially those in which participants are not receiving cardiac medications.

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