Introduction Atrial fibrillation (AF) is widely recognised as a significant cardiovascular condition associated with poor outcomes. There is increasing evidence that abnormalities of the cardiac autonomic nervous system (ANS) are involved in the pathogenesis of AF. AF and hypertension commonly co-exist and are independently associated with impaired autonomic function determined using heart rate variability (HRV). We decided to investigate whether HRV is more abnormal in patients with AF and hypertension when compared to hypertension alone.
Methods In a cross-sectional comparison, we studied two patient groups: AF and hypertension (n = 61) and hypertension control group (n = 33). Time-domain, frequency-domain and non-linear measures of HRV were determined using eMotion Faros ECG sensor. Participant’s breathing was controlled with a metronome. Data was analysed using SPSS software.
Results Participants were matched for age, sex and body mass index (BMI). Time-domain and non-linear indices of HRV were higher in AF (and hypertension) group compared to hypertensive controls (p≤0.01) (table 1). AF (p=0.003), ejection fraction (p=0.04) and heart rate (p=0.04) were independently associated with changes seen on HRV following adjustment for multiple variables.
Conclusions First study investigating autonomic function in patients with permanent AF and hypertension. AF, independent of hypertension, is characterised with marked HRV and is possibly related to vagal tone.
Conflict of Interest None
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