Fractal analysis of heart rate dynamics as a predictor of mortality in patients with depressed left ventricular function after acute myocardial infarction. TRACE Investigators. TRAndolapril Cardiac Evaluation

Am J Cardiol. 1999 Mar 15;83(6):836-9. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9149(98)01076-5.


A number of new methods have been recently developed to quantify complex heart rate (HR) dynamics based on nonlinear and fractal analysis, but their value in risk stratification has not been evaluated. This study was designed to determine whether selected new dynamic analysis methods of HR variability predict mortality in patients with depressed left ventricular (LV) function after acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Traditional time- and frequency-domain HR variability indexes along with short-term fractal-like correlation properties of RR intervals (exponent alpha) and power-law scaling (exponent beta) were studied in 159 patients with depressed LV function (ejection fraction <35%) after an AMI. By the end of 4-year follow-up, 72 patients (45%) had died and 87 (55%) were still alive. Short-term scaling exponent alpha (1.07 +/- 0.26 vs 0.90 +/- 0.26, p <0.001) and power-law slope beta (-1.35 +/- 0.23 vs -1.44 +/- 0.25, p <0.05) differed between survivors and those who died, but none of the traditional HR variability measures differed between these groups. Among all analyzed variables, reduced scaling exponent alpha (<0.85) was the best univariable predictor of mortality (relative risk 3.17, 95% confidence interval 1.96 to 5.15, p <0.0001), with positive and negative predictive accuracies of 65% and 86%, respectively. In the multivariable Cox proportional hazards analysis, mortality was independently predicted by the reduced exponent alpha (p <0.001) after adjustment for several clinical variables and LV function. A short-term fractal-like scaling exponent was the most powerful HR variability index in predicting mortality in patients with depressed LV function. Reduction in fractal correlation properties implies more random short-term HR dynamics in patients with increased risk of death after AMI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory
  • Female
  • Fractals
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / complications
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality*
  • Myocardial Infarction / physiopathology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke Volume
  • Survival Rate
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left / etiology*