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Am Heart J. 1998 Aug;136(2):289-96.

Nine-year follow-up study of heart rate variability in patients with Duchenne-type progressive muscular dystrophy.

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The Second Department of Internal Medicine, Kyorin University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.



The purpose of this study was to investigate the progression of autonomic dysfunction in patients with Duchenne-type progressive muscular dystrophy (DMD) over time by using heart rate variability.


Although previous studies suggest the presence of autonomic dysfunction in patients with DMD, the precise cause is not known. On the other hand, it is well known that analysis of heart rate variability provides a useful, noninvasive means of quantifying autonomic activity. High frequency power is determined predominantly by the parasympathetic nervous system, whereas low frequency power is determined by both the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.


Frequency and time domain analyses of heart rate variability during ambulatory electrocardiographic monitoring were performed in 17 patients with DMD over a 9-year period. At the time of entry, the mean patient age was 11 years and the mean Swinyard-Deaver stage was 4. In the first year, high frequency power was significantly lower and the ratio of low frequency to high frequency was significantly higher in patients with DMD than in the normal control subjects. These differences become significantly greater as the disease progressed. At the time of entry, low and high frequency powers increased at night in both groups. However, over time, high and low frequency powers at night tended to decrease. All of the time domain parameters were significantly lower in the patients with DMD at all time points compared with the normal control subjects.


We concluded that DMD patients have either a decrease in parasympathetic activity, an increase in sympathetic activity, or both as their disease progresses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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