To assess the characteristics and determinants of heart rate turbulence (HRT) in individuals without any apparent heart disease and in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD).Methods and results
Heart rate turbulence parameters, turbulence onset (TO), and turbulence slope (TS) were calculated on 24 h electrocardiogram recordings in 209 individuals without any heart disease (group 1) and in 157 CAD patients (group 2). In group 1, only age independently predicted abnormal TO (≥0%) [odds ratio (OR), 1.05; P<0.001], while predictors of abnormal TS (≤2.5 ms/RR) were age (OR, 0.85; P < 0.001) and hypertension (OR, 0.19; P = 0.028). In group 2 patients, only age independently predicted TO (OR, 1.03; P = 0.038), while age (OR, 0.90; P = 0.001) and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF; OR, 1.07; P = 0.008) predicted TS. Heart rate turbulence values were different in groups 1 and 2. Turbulence onset was (mean, standard deviation) −1.80 ± 2.24 vs. −0.73 ± 1.61%, respectively (P < 0.001), whereas TS was (median, interquartile interval) 5.83 (3.25–10.55) vs. 2.93 (1.73–5.81) ms/RR, respectively (P < 0.001). Coronary artery disease group, however, did not predict abnormal HRT parameters in multivariable analyses, both in the whole population and when comparing two subgroups matched for age and gender. Age and (for TS) LVEF, indeed, were the only independent predictors of abnormal HRT.Conclusions
Age is a major HRT determinant both in subjects without any apparent heart disease and in stable CAD patients. Hypertension and LVEF contribute independently to HRT in these two groups, respectively. Coronary artery disease group was not by itself associated with abnormal HRT parameters in multivariable analyses.