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Resting Heart Rate Variability Predicts Vulnerability to Pharmacologically-Induced Ventricular Arrhythmias in Male Rats

Stress Physiology Lab, Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, University of Parma, 43121 Parma, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Clin. Med. 2019, 8(5), 655;
Received: 3 April 2019 / Revised: 29 April 2019 / Accepted: 7 May 2019 / Published: 10 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autonomic Nervous System: From Bench to Bedside)
PDF [456 KB, uploaded 10 May 2019]


The electrical stability of the myocardium is dependent on the dynamic balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic influences on the heart, which is reflected by heart rate variability (HRV). Reduced HRV is a proposed predictor of sudden death caused by ventricular tachyarrhythmias in cardiac patients. However, the link between individual differences in HRV and ventricular tachyarrhythmic risk in populations without known pre-existing cardiac conditions is less well explored. In this study we investigated the extent to which individual differences in resting state HRV predict susceptibility to spontaneous and pharmacologically-induced ventricular arrhythmias in healthy rats. Radiotelemetric transmitters were implanted in 42 adult male Wild-type Groningen rats. ECG signals were recorded during 24-h resting conditions and under β-adrenoceptor pharmacological stimulation with isoproterenol and analyzed by means of time- and frequency-domain indexes of HRV. No significant association was found between individual differences in resting measures of HRV and spontaneous incidence of ventricular arrhythmias. However, lower resting values of HRV predicted a higher number of ventricular ectopic beats following β-adrenergic pharmacological stimulation with isoproterenol (0.02 mg/kg). Moreover, after isoproterenol administration, one rat with low resting HRV developed sustained ventricular tachycardia that led to death. The present results might be indicative of the potential utility of HRV measures of resting cardiac autonomic function for the prediction of ventricular arrhythmias, particularly during conditions of strong sympathetic activation, in populations without known cardiac disease.
Keywords: arrhythmias; heart rate variability; rats; sudden death; vagal tone arrhythmias; heart rate variability; rats; sudden death; vagal tone
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Carnevali, L.; Statello, R.; Sgoifo, A. Resting Heart Rate Variability Predicts Vulnerability to Pharmacologically-Induced Ventricular Arrhythmias in Male Rats. J. Clin. Med. 2019, 8, 655.

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