Heart rate variability measured early in patients with evolving acute coronary syndrome and 1-year outcomes of rehospitalization and mortality

Patricia R.E. Harris, Phyllis K. Stein, Gordon L. Fung, Barbara J. Drew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Objective: This study sought to examine the prognostic value of heart rate variability (HRV) measurement initiated immediately after emergency department presentation for patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Background: Altered HRV has been associated with adverse outcomes in heart disease, but the value of HRV measured during the earliest phases of ACS related to risk of 1-year rehospitalization and death has not been established. Methods: Twenty-four-hour Holter recordings of 279 patients with ACS were initiated within 45 minutes of emergency department arrival; recordings with ≥18 hours of sinus rhythm were selected for HRV analysis (number [N] =193). Time domain, frequency domain, and nonlinear HRV were examined. Survival analysis was performed. Results: During the 1-year follow-up, 94 patients were event-free, 82 were readmitted, and 17 died. HRV was altered in relation to outcomes. Predictors of rehospitalization included increased normalized high frequency power, decreased normalized low frequency power, and decreased low/high frequency ratio. Normalized high frequency >42 ms2 predicted rehospitalization while controlling for clinical variables (hazard ratio [HR] =2.3; 95% confidence interval [CI] =1.4-3.8, P=0.001). Variables significantly associated with death included natural logs of total power and ultra low frequency power. A model with ultra low frequency power <8 ms2 (HR =3.8; 95% CI =1.5-10.1; P=0.007) and troponin >0.3 ng/mL (HR =4.0; 95% CI =1.3-12.1; P=0.016) revealed that each contributed independently in predicting mortality. Nonlinear HRV variables were significant predictors of both outcomes. Conclusion: HRV measured close to the ACS onset may assist in risk stratification. HRV cut-points may provide additional, incremental prognostic information to established assessment guidelines, and may be worthy of additional study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-464
Number of pages14
JournalVascular Health and Risk Management
StatePublished - 2014


  • Autonomic cardiac function
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Hospital readmittance
  • Mortality
  • Outcomes research
  • Risk assessment


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