Prognostic Value of Heart Rate Variability in Patients With Cancer

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



Previous studies have shown that autonomic dysfunction is associated with shorter survival in patients with advanced cancer. We examined the association between heart rate variability, a measure of autonomic function, and survival in a large cohort of patients with cancer.


We retrospectively examined the records of 651 patients with cancer who had undergone ambulatory electrocardiogram monitoring for 20 to 24 hours. Time domain heart rate variability (SD of normal-to-normal beat interval [SDNN]) was calculated using power spectral analysis. Survival data were compared between patients with SDNN ≥ 70 milliseconds (Group 1, n = 520) and SDNN < 70 milliseconds (Group 2, n = 131).


Two groups were similar in most variables, except that patients in group 2 had a significantly higher percentage of male patients (P = 0.03), hematological malignancies (P = 0.04), and use of non–selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (P = 0.04). Patients in group 2 had a significantly shorter survival rate (25% of patients in group 2 died by 18.7 weeks vs. 78.9 weeks in group 1 patients; P < 0.0001). Multivariate analysis showed that SDNN < 70 milliseconds remained significant for survival (hazard ratio 1.9 [95% confidence interval: 1.4–2.5]) independent of age, cancer stage, and performance status.


The presence of cancer in combination with decreased heart rate variability (SDNN < 70 milliseconds) is associated with shorter survival time.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles