Intracardiac Origin of Heart Rate Variability, Pacemaker Funny Current and their Possible Association with Critical Illness
Although the value of heart rate variability (HRV) for risk stratification after acute myocardial infarction has been demonstrated, the value of low HRV as a predictor of sudden cardiac death in patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy has not been shown convincingly to date. We retrospectively analyzed electrocardiographic data from 179 patients in the Veterans Affairs' Survival Trial of Antiarrhythmic Therapy in Congestive Heart Failure to determine if HRV (expressed as the SD of the normal-to-normal RR intervals [SDNN]) would be useful as a predictor of overall mortality and sudden death. Because our goal was to identify high-risk patients, we compared patients in the lowest quartile of HRV with the remaining patients. Among the 127 patients meeting inclusion criteria, SDNN <65.3 ms (the lowest quartile) was the sole independent factor predictive of survival in a multivariate model (p = 0.0001). A Cox proportional-hazards model revealed that each increase of 10 ms in SDNN conferred a 20% decrease in risk of mortality (p = 0.0001). Furthermore, patients with SDNN <65.3 ms had a significantly increased risk of sudden death (p = 0.016). Thus, HRV was the sole independent predictor of overall mortality and was significantly associated with sudden death in this population.