Heart rate variability in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: a systematic review and methodological considerations

P. S. Matusik, P. T. Matusik, P. K. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Aim: The aim of this review was to summarize current knowledge about the scientific findings and potential clinical utility of heart rate variability measures in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Methods: PubMed, Embase and Scopus databases were searched for the terms associated with systemic lupus erythematosus and heart rate variability, including controlled vocabulary, when appropriate. Articles published in English and available in full text were considered. Finally, 11 publications were selected, according to the systematic review protocol and were analyzed. Results: In general, heart rate variability, measured in the time and frequency domains, was reported to be decreased in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus compared with controls. In some systemic lupus erythematosus studies, heart rate variability was found to correlate with inflammatory markers and albumin levels. A novel heart rate variability measure, heart rate turbulence onset, was shown to be increased, while heart rate turbulence slope was decreased in systemic lupus erythematosus patients. Reports of associations of changes in heart rate variability parameters with increasing systemic lupus erythematosus activity were inconsistent, showing decreasing heart rate variability or no relationship. However, the low/high frequency ratio was, in some studies, reported to increase with increasing disease activity or to be inversely correlated with albumin levels. Conclusions: Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus have abnormal heart rate variability, which reflects cardiac autonomic dysfunction and may be related to inflammatory cytokines but not necessarily to disease activity. Thus measurement of heart rate variability could be a useful clinical tool for monitoring autonomic dysfunction in systemic lupus erythematosus, and may potentially provide prognostic information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1225-1239
Number of pages15
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Heart rate variability
  • autonomic nervous system dysfunction
  • heart rate turbulence
  • systematic review
  • systemic lupus erythematosus


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