The process of weaning may impose cardiopulmonary stress on ventilated patients. Heart-rate variability (HRV), a noninvasive tool to characterize autonomic function and cardiorespiratory interaction, may be a promising modality to assess patient capability during the weaning process. We aimed to evaluate the association between HRV change and weaning outcomes in critically ill patients.
This study included 101 consecutive patients recovering from acute respiratory failure. Frequency-domain analysis, including very low frequency, low frequency, high frequency, and total power of HRV was assessed during a 1-hour spontaneous breathing trial (SBT) through a T-piece and after extubation after successful SBT.
Of 101 patients, 24 (24%) had SBT failure, and HRV analysis in these patients showed a significant decrease in total power ( P = 0.003); 77 patients passed SBT and were extubated, but 13 (17%) of them required reintubation within 72 hours. In successfully extubated patients, very low frequency and total power from SBT to postextubation significantly increased ( P = 0.003 and P = 0.004, respectively). Instead, patients with extubation failure were unable to increase HRV after extubation.