The heart rate of healthy persons displays beat-to-beat variations that result from fluctuations in autonomic nervous system activity at the sinus node. Heart rate variability (HRV) decreases under situations of stress, either emotional or physical whereas it increases with rest. Therefore, HRV is considered a noninvasive marker of autonomic nervous system function.
1,2 The lack of HRV has long been used for the diagnosis of diabetic neuropathy. In more recent years, low HRV has been shown to have prognostic value in patients with myocardial infarction. 3 Also, in the general population, low HRV is associated with death 4,5 and with the risk of cardiac events.6,7 Because low HRV has been reported in patients with diabetes, hypertensive cardiac hypertrophy, and atherosclerosis,1,8,9 prevalent disease may account for these findings
It is questioned whether, in the general population, low HRV is a consequence of disease or an indicator of an underlying mechanism for future disease; therefore, we studied HRV in relation to total and CHD mortality risk in the Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities (ARIC) Study
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