Journal of the American Heart Association 2017 07 216(7) pii e004305
Heart rate variability (HRV) characterizes cardiac autonomic functioning. The association of HRV with stroke is uncertain. We examined whether 24-hour HRV added predictive value to the Cardiovascular Health Study clinical stroke risk score (CHS-SCORE), previously developed at the baseline examination.
METHODS AND RESULTS
N=884 stroke-free CHS participants (age 75.3±4.6), with 24-hour Holters adequate for HRV analysis at the 1994-1995 examination, had 68 strokes over ≤8 year follow-up (median 7.3 [interquartile range 7.1-7.6] years). The value of adding HRV to the CHS-SCORE was assessed with stepwise Cox regression analysis. The CHS-SCORE predicted incident stroke (HR=1.06 per unit increment, P=0.005). Two HRV parameters, decreased coefficient of variance of NN intervals (CV%, P=0.031) and decreased power law slope (SLOPE, P=0.033) also entered the model, but these did not significantly improve the c-statistic (P=0.47). In a secondary analysis, dichotomization of CV% (LOWCV% ≤12.8%) was found to maximally stratify higher-risk participants after adjustment for CHS-SCORE. Similarly, dichotomizing SLOPE (LOWSLOPE <-1.4) maximally stratified higher-risk participants. When these HRV categories were combined (eg, HIGHCV% with HIGHSLOPE), the c-statistic for the model with the CHS-SCORE and combined HRV categories was 0.68, significantly higher than 0.61 for the CHS-SCORE alone (P=0.02). CONCLUSIONS
In this sample of older adults, 2 HRV parameters, CV% and power law slope, emerged as significantly associated with incident stroke when added to a validated clinical risk score. After each parameter was dichotomized based on its optimal cut point in this sample, their composite significantly improved prediction of incident stroke during ≤8-year follow-up. These findings will require validation in separate, larger cohorts.