Background: Little is known about the value of heart rate variability in patients with symptomatic coronary artery disease with a preserved left ventricular function. We hypothesized that in these patients heart rate variability might be a helpful adjunct to conventional parameters to predict clinical events.
Methods: In a prospective 2-year follow-up study ambulatory electrocardiographic recordings were performed in 263 consecutive male patients (mean age 56+/-8 years) with stable angina pectoris and a mean left ventricular ejection fraction of 71%+/-12%. Clinical events consisted mainly of coronary events such as percutaneous transluminal angioplasty or coronary artery bypass graft operation.
Results: Low measures of standard deviation of normal R-R intervals, standard deviation of the mean R-R intervals of 5 minutes, and two spectral components of heart rate variability were found in patients who had had an event compared with patients with no event. Adjusted for severity of angina, the presence of a previous myocardial infarction, and the use of beta-blockers in a logistic regression model this relation remained statistically significant for SDNN. Healthy volunteers appeared to have the highest measures of heart rate variability.
Conclusion: In patients with ischemic heart disease and normal or near normal ventricular function decreased heart rate variability is associated with adverse clinical events.