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Cardiology. 1996 Nov-Dec;87(6):492-6.

Heart rate variability in patients with sleep-related breathing disorders.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Bonn, Germany.


The increased mortality among patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome has been explained in part by the increased incidence of arterial and pulmonary hypertension. A decreased heart rate variability (HRV) has been shown to be associated with an increased mortality as well. We investigated 53 patients, admitted to the hospital for chest pain for sleep-related breathing disorders (SRBD) with an ambulatory screening device (MESAM-IV). HRV was recorded simultaneously. All patients received coronary artery catheterization and 36 had significant coronary artery disease (CAD; 67.9%). Standard time domain parameters were compared by a 4-way Anova for patients with an oxygen desaturation index of more and less than 5/hour and the factors CAD, diabetes and beta-blocker use. The percentage of differences between RR intervals that differ more than 50 ms (pNN > 50: 9.0 +/- 11.1 vs. 19.2 +/- 22.2%: p < 0.05) as well as the root mean square of these differences (38.0 +/- 29.0 vs. 59.2 +/- 51.5 ms; p < 0.05) were significantly decreased in patients with SRBD. In an hourly breakdown the number of desaturations was not correlated with a change in HRV. Mean oxygen saturation was significantly decreased in patients with SRBD (95.2 +/- 1.8 vs. 96.2 +/- 1.42%, p < 0.05), and positively correlated with the pNN > 50 (r = 0.34, p < 0.01). This correlation might suggest a more profound pathophysiological interaction between HRV and SRBD than short-term vagal activation alone. The results favor HRV for inclusion in future risk stratification models in patients with sleep apnea syndrome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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