Assessing autonomic disturbances of hypertension in the general practitioner's office: A transtelephonic approach to spectral analysis of heart rate variability

Daniela Lucini, Alberto Porta, Massimo Pagani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: Spectral analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) provides potentially useful information on autonomic disturbances of human hypertension. However, its practical use outside the clinical laboratory is largely unexplored. The aim of this study was to test the feasibility of assessing HRV from the general practitioner's (GP's) office, using a novel transtelephonic approach. Design: Parallel study on two similar groups: 150 subjects (100 hypertensives and 50 normotensives) studied in our hospital clinic and compared with 150 subjects studied in an out-of-hospital practice (100 hypertensive subjects from GPs' surgeries and 50 normotensive subjects participating in a multinational company's health maintenance programme). Methods: Spectral analysis of RR interval variability was used to assess autonomic regulation of the sino-atrial (SA) node, both at rest and during standing. For the out-of-hospital practice, strings of continuous electrocardiograms (ECGs), recorded with a microminiature instrument, were fed, off line, through standard telephone lines to our laboratory for subsequent spectral analysis. Results: RR spectral profiles obtained from healthy controls or hypertensive patients examined in their GPs' surgeries were similar to those obtained in a hospital clinic, both at rest and when standing up. Conclusions: The present study shows the feasibility of using a transtelephonic approach to perform spectral analysis of heart rate variability from physicians' surgeries. This method could favour a more widespread use of autonomic assessment in the clinical management of hypertension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-760
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hypertension
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2003



  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Autoregressive spectral analysis
  • Cardiovascular prevention
  • Sympathetic activity
  • Telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology

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