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Clin Sci (Lond). 1996;91 Suppl:105-7.

Twenty-four-hour pattern of blood pressure and spectral analysis of heart rate variability in diabetic patients with various degrees of autonomic neuropathy. Comparison to standard cardiovascular tests.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Tor Vergata University, Rome, Italy.


We performed four cardiovascular tests of autonomic function (deep breathing, lying to standing, Valsalva manoeuvre, postural hypotension) and simultaneous 24h recordings of blood pressure (BP) and ECG in 35 normotensive diabetic subjects. Autoregressive power spectrum analysis of RR interval variability was applied to 24h ECG recordings to obtain for day and night periods power of low- (0.03-0.15 Hz, LF) and high-frequency (0.18- 0.40 Hz, HF) components, relative markers of sympathetic and vagal activity respectively, and their ratio (LF/HF), assumed as index of sympathovagal balance. Eighteen patients showed normal cardiovascular tests, 6 patients one abnormal heart rate test, 5 patients two abnormal heart rate tests, and 6 patients also abnormal postural hypotension test. In diabetic patients with increasing degree of autonomic neuropathy, there was a progressive reduction of day-night change in systolic BP (p < 0.01), of LF during the day (p < 0.01), of HF during the night (p < 0.04), of day-night change in HF (p < 0.02), and of day-night change in HF/LF (p < 0.03). Day-night change in systolic BP was related to postural hypotension (p < 0.001) and to deep breathing (p < 0.01). Day LF was related to lying to standing (p < 0.001), to postural hypotension (p < 0.005) and to deep breathing (p < 0.007). Night HF was related to deep breathing (p < 0.0002) and to lying to standing (p < 0.02). Day-night change in HF/LF was slightly related to deep breathing, lying to standing, and to postural hypotension (p < 0.04). In a multiple regression analysis including age, diabetes duration, and cardiovascular tests as independent variables, day-night change in BP and day LF were only related to postural hypotension, whereas night HF was related to deep breathing. In conclusion, in diabetic patients with increasing autonomic damage, there is a progressive impairment of nocturnal fall of BP and of sympathetic activity during the day, blunted nocturnal increase of vagal activity and lower circadian variation in sympathovagal balance. The significant but not very close correlation of day-night pattern of BP and sympathovagal activity to standard cardiovascular reflex tests, supports the independent usefulness of 24h BP monitoring and spectral analysis of heart rate variability in diabetic neuropathy.

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