Heart rate variability (HRV) of patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) during the post-insult sub-acute period

Brain Inj. 2005 Aug 10;19(8):605-11. doi: 10.1080/02699050400024946.


Objective: To evaluate heart rate variability (HRV) of patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Methods: By a prospective study, the HRV was assessed in 20 patients with TBI during the sub-acute period post-injury (the first test was performed at a mean time post-insult of 38 days) and a matched control. The patients were examined twice, 1 month apart. The assessment included HRV (both in time and frequency domains), GCS, length of coma, brain CT, FIM and FAM.

Results: A significant difference was found between patients and controls concerning HRV total power, i.e. frequencies between 0.01-0.6 Hz (high frequency p = 0.003, low frequency p = 0.013, total power p = 0.034) and for standard deviation of RR interval p = 0.011. HRV changes were related more to the timing of the evaluation than to the severity of the brain damage.

Conclusion: HRV differed of patients with TBI and in the control group. Tendency to HRV normalization changes was detected during the first 3 months after the injury, which suggests recovery of the autonomic nervous system.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / etiology*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies