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Circulation. 1994 Jul;90(1):108-13.

Effects of converting enzyme inhibition on heart period variability in patients with acute myocardial infarction.

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Institute of Internal Medicine, Cardiology, and Heart Surgery, University of Naples Federico II, Italy.



Heart period variability provides useful prognostic information on autonomic cardiac control, and a strong association has been demonstrated after myocardial infarction (MI) between cardiac mortality, sudden death, and reduced total power, ultralow-frequency (ULF) power, and very-low-frequency (VLF) power. Converting enzyme inhibitors are widely used in MI patients, but their influence on heart period variability remains to be defined.


Time- and frequency-domain measures of heart period variability were calculated from 24-hour Holter monitoring in 40 patients with a first uncomplicated MI. After baseline examination between 48 and 72 hours after symptom onset, patients were randomly assigned to placebo or captopril administration, and on the third day, 24-hour Holter monitoring was repeated. No changes in time and frequency domain were detectable after placebo. After captopril, the SD of all normal RR (NN) intervals (SDNN) increased from 90 +/- 29 to 105 +/- 30 milliseconds (P < .01); the SD of the average NN intervals for all 5-minute segments (SDANN index) and the mean of the SDs of all NN intervals for all 5-minute segments (SDNN index) also increased from 74 +/- 24 to 90 +/- 26 milliseconds (P < .01) and from 45 +/- 17 to 49 +/- 15 milliseconds (P < .05), respectively. The root mean square successive difference (r-MSSD) and the percent of differences between adjacent NN intervals > 50 milliseconds (pNN50) remained unchanged. In regard to frequency-domain measures, after captopril, total power (ln unit) increased from 8.28 +/- 0.42 to 8.47 +/- 0.30 (P < .01); considering the frequency bands, a significant increase was observed in ULF (P < .01), VLF (P < .05), and low-frequency (LF) power (P < .05), whereas high-frequency (HF) power remained unchanged.


This study supports the hypothesis that the renin-angiotensin system modulates the amplitude of ULF and VLF power. Furthermore, it demonstrates that in MI patients, converting enzyme inhibition favorably modifies measures of heart period variability strongly associated with a poor prognosis.

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