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Clin Auton Res. 2006 Jun;16(3):228-34. Epub 2006 May 12.

Decreased heart rate variability may predict the progression of carotid atherosclerosis in type 2 diabetes.

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Dept. of Vascular Diseases, University of Lund, University Hospital UMAS, S-205 02, Malmö, Sweden.


Heart rate variability (HRV), a measure of autonomic function, can predict survival outcomes. Cardiovascular disease is a known complication of diabetes, and we aimed to determine if autonomic dysfunction was associated with carotid artery atherosclerotic plaques in type 2 diabetic patients. We assessed frequency domain HRV from power spectral analysis of 24 h Holter ECG recordings, expiration/inspiration (E/I) ratio during deep breathing, acceleration index (AI) of R-R interval in response to head-up tilt, and the degree of carotid artery atherosclerosis in 61 type-2 diabetic patients (39 males, 45-69 years). Studies were carried out 5-6 years after diagnosis (baseline) and repeated 8 years after diagnosis (follow-up). At baseline, patients diagnosed with autonomic neuropathy, with abnormal E/I ratio and abnormal AI measurements, had decreased low frequency (LF) HRV. Baseline E/I ratio correlated with day (r = 0.34; P < 0.001) and night-time (r = 0.44; P < 0.001) LF power. Night-time HRV did not differ in patient with and without autonomic neuropathy. Reduced common carotid artery diameter and atherosclerotic intima-media thickness (IMT) both correlated with HRV at baseline. At follow-up, all HRV variables decreased significantly. Furthermore, patients with lower LF power at baseline, had a larger increase in the thickness of the carotid bulb intima-media at follow-up. Our results show that LF HRV power is associated with the extent and progression of carotid atherosclerosis in type 2 diabetes. A low LF HRV may predict the progression of atherosclerosis in these patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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