Heart rate variability as a marker of recovery from critical illness in children

Lauren E. Marsillio*, Tomas Manghi, Michael S. Carroll, Lauren C. Balmert, Mark S. Wainwright

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objectives The purpose of this study was to Identify whether changes in heart rate variability (HRV) could be detected as critical illness resolves by comparing HRV from the time of pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission with HRV immediately prior to discharge. We also sought to demonstrate that HRV derived from electrocardiogram (ECG) data from bedside monitors can be calculated in critically-ill children using a real-time, streaming analytics platform. Methods This was a retrospective, observational pilot study of 17 children aged 0 to 18 years admitted to the PICU of a free-standing, academic children's hospital. Three time-domain measures of HRV were calculated in real-time from bedside monitor ECG data and stored for analysis. Measures included: Root mean square of successive differences between NN intervals (RMSSD), percent of successive NN interval differences above 50 ms (pNN50), and the standard deviation of NN intervals (SDNN). Results HRV values calculated from the first and last 24 hours of PICU stay were analyzed. Mixed effects models demonstrated that all three measures of HRV were significantly lower during the first 24 hours compared to the last 24 hours of PICU admission (p<0.001 for all three measures). In models exploring the relationship between time from admission and log HRV values, the predicted average HRV remained consistently higher in the last 24 hours of PICU stay compared to the first 24 hours. Conclusion HRV was significantly lower in the first 24 hours compared to the 24 hours preceding PICU discharge, after resolution of critical illness. This demonstrates that it is feasible to detect changes in HRV using an automated, streaming analytics platform. Continuous tracking of HRV may serve as a marker of recovery in critically ill children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0215930
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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