Effect of acute alcohol ingestion on short-term heart rate fluctuations

J Stud Alcohol. 1992 Jan;53(1):86-90. doi: 10.15288/jsa.1992.53.86.


Acute ingestion of a low dose of alcohol (0.3 g/Kg) in a group of 18 healthy volunteers does not alter RR mean nor RR variance, producing only a slight decrease in the heart rate variability (HRV) measured by the mean momentary arrhythmia. However, power spectral of the HRV signal shows appreciable changes in the magnitude of the short-term RR fluctuations. Low frequency RR oscillations (0.02-0.06 Hz) increase in power during the 20-45 min. period after alcohol intake, while middle (0.08-0.15 Hz) frequency oscillations decrease in power during the 20-60 min. period and higher (0.20-0.35 Hz) frequency oscillations decrease in power during the 5-60 min. period after intake. The most drastic changes were observed in the middle frequency oscillations during the 20-30 min. period after intake while higher frequency oscillations seem to be less affected by the alcohol ingestion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / physiopathology*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / physiopathology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electrocardiography / drug effects*
  • Electrocardiography / instrumentation
  • Ethanol / pharmacokinetics
  • Heart Rate / drug effects*
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microcomputers
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / drug effects
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / drug effects
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiopathology


  • Ethanol