Heart Rate Turbulence Predicts Survival Independently From Severity of Liver Dysfunction in Patients With Cirrhosis

Front Physiol. 2020 Dec 9;11:602456. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2020.602456. eCollection 2020.


Background: Reduced heart rate variability (HRV) is an independent predictor of mortality in patients with cirrhosis. However, conventional HRV indices can only be interpreted in individuals with normal sinus rhythm. In patients with recurrent premature ventricular complexes (PVCs), the predictive capacity of conventional HRV indices is compromised. Heart Rate Turbulence (HRT) represents the biphasic change of the heart rate after PVCs. This study was aimed to define whether HRT parameters could predict mortality in cirrhotic patients.

Materials and methods: 24 h electrocardiogram recordings were collected from 40 cirrhotic patients. Turbulence Onset was calculated as HRT indices. The enrolled patients were followed up for 12 months after the recruitment in relation to survival and/or transplantation.

Results: During the follow-up period, 21 patients (52.5%) survived, 12 patients (30%) died and 7 patients (17.5%) had liver transplantation. Turbulence Onset was found to be strongly linked with mortality on Cox regression (Hazard ratio = 1.351, p < 0.05). Moreover, Turbulence Onset predicted mortality independently of MELD and Child-Pugh's Score.

Conclusion: This study provides further evidence of autonomic dysfunction in cirrhosis and suggests that HRT is reliable alternative to HRV in patients with PVCs.

Keywords: autonomic nervous system; cirrhosis; heart rate turbulence; meld; survival; turbulence onset; turbulence slope.