Variations of autonomic tone preceding onset of atrial fibrillation after coronary artery bypass grafting

Am J Cardiol. 1998 Jul 1;82(1):22-5. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9149(98)00231-8.


Assessment of autonomic tone preceding the onset of atrial fibrillation (AF) after coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) with heart rate variability was examined in 64 patients scheduled for elective CABG (days 2 to 5). Ninety-six-hour Holter tapes were analyzed in each patient and all events labeled by an experienced technician. The hour preceding AF was divided into 4 quarters (heart rate variability calculated per quarter) and compared with similar time episodes from the group without AF. Twenty-six of 64 patients (40%) had a total of 35 episodes. Only increased age (68+/-5 vs 62+/-9 years) and lower ejection fraction (66+/-16% vs 73+/-8%) were associated with an increased risk for AF. Before onset, a greater number of atrial premature complexes was observed. The standard deviation of all RR intervals (SDNN) showed an increase in the group with AF in the last 15 minutes (significant vs controls and within the AF group). The low-frequency/high-frequency ratio was significantly lower in patients in the first 30 minutes, followed by an increase mainly because the high-frequency spectrum became less important. Thus, initiation of postoperative AF is influenced by autonomic tone variations. A shift in the autonomic balance with a loss of vagal tone and a moderate increase in sympathetic tone are observed before the onset of AF compared with those in controls.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrial Fibrillation / etiology*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology*
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Coronary Artery Bypass / adverse effects*
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory
  • Female
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Treatment Outcome