Does heart rate identify sudden death survivors? Assessment of heart rate, QT interval, and heart rate variability.

Janos Molnar*, Jerry S. Weiss, James E Rosenthal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The objective was to test whether the circadian variability of several electrocardiographic variables distinguishes sudden cardiac death survivors from heart disease patients without a history of cardiac arrest and from normal subjects. Heart rate, heart rate variability, and QT interval have been reported to identify survivors of sudden cardiac death. Computer-assisted continuous QT measurement and heart rate variability analysis were performed on 24-hour Holter records for three groups: (1) 14 sudden death survivors; (2) 14 control patients with diagnosis and therapy matched to survivors; and (3) 14 healthy subjects. There were no significant differences in 24-hour mean RR and QT intervals between groups. However, heart rate was significantly different between the three groups at night but not during the day because the expected nighttime decline was markedly blunted in survivors and somewhat blunted in control patients. The QT interval and frequency domain heart rate variability measures followed a similar circadian pattern. The mean QTc was significantly longer in control patients. The QTc had a wide range in all groups, but less in sudden death survivors. Of ten common time and frequency domain heart rate variability indices, only SDANN and SDNN were significantly lower in sudden death survivors. Reduced circadian variation of heart rate, with marked blunting of the nighttime heart rate decline, identifies sudden cardiac death survivors as well as does SDANN and SDNN, and, in contrast to heart rate variability measures, can easily be obtained from a Holter report without complex calculations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-110
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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