Low heart rate variability (HRV) has been linked to increased total mortality in the general population; however, the relationship between low HRV and sudden cardiac death (SCD) is less well-characterized. The goal of this study was to evaluate the relationship between low HRV and SCD in a community-based cohort. Our cohort consisted of 12,543 participants from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. HRV measures were derived from 2-minute electrocardiogram recordings obtained during the baseline exam (1987-89). Time domain measurements included the standard deviation of all normal RR intervals (SDNN) and the root mean squared successive difference (r-MSSD). Frequency domain measurements included low frequency power (LF) and high frequency (HF) power. During a median follow-up of 13 years, 215 SCDs were identified from physician adjudication of all coronary heart disease deaths through 2001. In multivariable adjusted Cox proportional hazards models, each standard deviation decrement in SDNN, LF, and HF were associated with 24%, 27% and 16% increase in SCD risk, respectively. Low HRV is independently associated with increased risk of SCD in the general population.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study is carried out as a collaborative study supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute contracts (HHSN268201100005C, HHSN268201100006C, HHSN268201100007C, HHSN268201100008C, HHSN268201100009C, HHSN268201100010C, HHSN268201100011C, and HHSN268201100012C). The authors thank the staff and participants of the ARIC study for their important contributions.