The 24-hour heart rate behavior in long-term survivors of cardiac transplantation
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A detailed computerized analysis of heart rate (HR) behavior during ambulatory monitoring was performed in 19 long-term survivors of cardiac transplantation (12 orthotopic, 7 heterotopic) and in 10 normal volunteers. Compared with normal hearts, the transplanted denervated and the recipient innervated hearts in the heterotopic group showed higher average HRs over the whole 24 hours, the waking and sleeping periods. The rates of the denervated and the recipient hearts did not differ significantly. The maximal HR was similar in all 3 groups, but the minimal HR was lower in the normal hearts than in denervated and recipient hearts. The 24-hour RR interval variability was greatly reduced in the denervated hearts (60 +/- 22 ms) compared with the recipient (89 +/- 26 ms) and normal (151 +/- 38 ms) hearts. During arousal from sleep, the magnitude, time and rate of the HR change were significantly reduced in the denervated hearts compared with the innervated hearts and in the recipient compared with the normal hearts. These findings demonstrate that denervated hearts can show significant variations in HR during the 24-hour period, but to a lesser extent than normal hearts. The widest deviation from normal occurs during sleep, when the denervated heart shows minimal slowing probably due to lack of parasympathetic innervation. In heterotopic transplant recipients, the patients' own HR responses also are significantly blunted.
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