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      An Overview of Heart Rate Variability Metrics and Norms

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          Abstract

          Healthy biological systems exhibit complex patterns of variability that can be described by mathematical chaos. Heart rate variability (HRV) consists of changes in the time intervals between consecutive heartbeats called interbeat intervals (IBIs). A healthy heart is not a metronome. The oscillations of a healthy heart are complex and constantly changing, which allow the cardiovascular system to rapidly adjust to sudden physical and psychological challenges to homeostasis. This article briefly reviews current perspectives on the mechanisms that generate 24 h, short-term (~5 min), and ultra-short-term (<5 min) HRV, the importance of HRV, and its implications for health and performance. The authors provide an overview of widely-used HRV time-domain, frequency-domain, and non-linear metrics. Time-domain indices quantify the amount of HRV observed during monitoring periods that may range from ~2 min to 24 h. Frequency-domain values calculate the absolute or relative amount of signal energy within component bands. Non-linear measurements quantify the unpredictability and complexity of a series of IBIs. The authors survey published normative values for clinical, healthy, and optimal performance populations. They stress the importance of measurement context, including recording period length, subject age, and sex, on baseline HRV values. They caution that 24 h, short-term, and ultra-short-term normative values are not interchangeable. They encourage professionals to supplement published norms with findings from their own specialized populations. Finally, the authors provide an overview of HRV assessment strategies for clinical and optimal performance interventions.

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          Most cited references 109

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          Impact of Reduced Heart Rate Variability on Risk for Cardiac Events: The Framingham Heart Study

          Although heart rate variability (HRV) is altered in a variety of pathological conditions, the association of reduced HRV with risk for new cardiac events has not been studied in a large community-based population. The first 2 hours of ambulatory ECG recordings obtained on subjects of the Framingham Heart Study who were free of clinically apparent coronary heart disease or congestive heart failure were reprocessed to assess HRV. Five frequency-domain measures and three time-domain measures were obtained. The associations between HRV measures and the incidence of new cardiac events (angina pectroris, myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease death, or congestive heart failure) were assessed with proportional hazards regression analyses. There were 2501 eligible subjects with a mean age of 53 years. During a mean follow-up of 3.5 years, cardiac events occurred in 58 subjects. After adjustment for age, sex, cigarette smoking, diabetes, left ventricular hypertrophy, and other relevant risk factors, all HRV measures except the ratio of low-frequency to high-frequency power were significantly associated with risk for a cardiac event (P = .0016 to .0496). A one-standard deviation decrement in the standard deviation of total normal RR intervals (natural log transformed) was associated with a hazard ratio of 1.47 for new cardiac events (95% confidence interval of 1.16 to 1.86). The estimation of HRV by ambulatory monitoring offers prognostic information beyond that provided by the evaluation of traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors.
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            Prospective Study of Heart Rate Variability and Mortality in Chronic Heart Failure: Results of the United Kingdom Heart Failure Evaluation and Assessment of Risk Trial (UK-Heart)

            Patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) have a continuing high mortality. Autonomic dysfunction may play an important role in the pathophysiology of cardiac death in CHF. UK-HEART examined the value of heart rate variability (HRV) measures as independent predictors of death in CHF. In a prospective study powered for mortality, we recruited 433 outpatients 62+/-9.6 years old with CHF (NYHA functional class I to III; mean ejection fraction, 0.41+/-0.17). Time-domain HRV indices and conventional prognostic indicators were related to death by multivariate analysis. During 482+/-161 days of follow-up, cardiothoracic ratio, SDNN, left ventricular end-systolic diameter, and serum sodium were significant predictors of all-cause mortality. The risk ratio for a 41.2-ms decrease in SDNN was 1.62 (95% CI, 1.16 to 2.44). The annual mortality rate for the study population in SDNN subgroups was 5.5% for >100 ms, 12.7% for 50 to 100 ms, and 51.4% for <50 ms. SDNN, creatinine, and serum sodium were related to progressive heart failure death. Cardiothoracic ratio, left ventricular end-diastolic diameter, the presence of nonsustained ventricular tachycardia, and serum potassium were related to sudden cardiac death. A reduction in SDNN was the most powerful predictor of the risk of death due to progressive heart failure. CHF is associated with autonomic dysfunction, which can be quantified by measuring HRV. A reduction in SDNN identifies patients at high risk of death and is a better predictor of death due to progressive heart failure than other conventional clinical measurements. High-risk subgroups identified by this measurement are candidates for additional therapy after prescription of an ACE inhibitor.
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              Heart rate variability: measurement and clinical utility.

              Electrocardiographic RR intervals fluctuate cyclically, modulated by ventilation, baroreflexes, and other genetic and environmental factors that are mediated through the autonomic nervous system. Short term electrocardiographic recordings (5 to 15 minutes), made under controlled conditions, e.g., lying supine or standing or tilted upright can elucidate physiologic, pharmacologic, or pathologic changes in autonomic nervous system function. Long-term, usually 24-hour recordings, can be used to assess autonomic nervous responses during normal daily activities in health, disease, and in response to therapeutic interventions, e.g., exercise or drugs. RR interval variability is useful for assessing risk of cardiovascular death or arrhythmic events, especially when combined with other tests, e.g., left ventricular ejection fraction or ventricular arrhythmias.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Public Health
                Front Public Health
                Front. Public Health
                Frontiers in Public Health
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                2296-2565
                28 September 2017
                2017
                : 5
                Affiliations
                1Center for Applied Psychophysiology, Truman State University , Kirksville, MO, United States
                2William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center (VHA) , Columbia, SC, United States
                Author notes

                Edited by: Joav Merrick, Ministry of Social Affairs, Israel

                Reviewed by: Angela J. Grippo, Northern Illinois University, United States; Gillian Bartlett, McGill University, Canada

                *Correspondence: Fred Shaffer, fredricshaffer@ 123456gmail.com

                Specialty section: This article was submitted to Family Medicine and Primary Care, a section of the journal Frontiers in Public Health

                Article
                10.3389/fpubh.2017.00258
                5624990
                Copyright © 2017 Shaffer and Ginsberg.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 7, Equations: 0, References: 144, Pages: 17, Words: 15418
                Categories
                Public Health
                Review

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