Beta-blocking effect of propafenone based on spectral analysis of heart rate variability

Federico Lombardi, Daniela Torzillo, Giulia Sandrone, Laura Dalla Vecchia, Maria Luisa Finocchiaro, Roberto Bernasconi, Emanuele Cappiello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


RR variability was analyzed in 15 patients with ventricular arrhythmias to evaluate whether the antiarrhythmic action of propafenone is associated with alteration of neural control mechanisms. Before drug administration, spectral analysis of RR variability was characterized by 2 major components at low and high frequency, which are considered to reflect sympathetic and parasympathetic modulation of the heart period. After propafenone (600 to 900 mg/day), there was a marked reduction in RR variance (826 ± 184 to 412 ± 77 ms2; p <0.05), although the mean RR interval was unchanged. The drug significantly reduced the low-frequency component (52 ± 6 to 28 ± 4 nu) and augmented the high-frequency component (39 ± 6 to 55 ± 5 nu). As a result, the low-/high-frequency ratio (an index of sympathovagal balance) decreased from 2.0 ± 0.4 to 0.6 ± 0.1. A positive correlation between serum levels and drug-induced changes in the low-frequency component was also observed. Furthermore, the increase in the low-frequency component induced by tilt (53 ±5 to 79 ± 3 nu) was markedly attenuated after drug administration (27 ± 5 to 54 ± 7 nu). Thus, propafenone administration is associated with changes in spectral components that are consistent with a β-blocking effect of the drug.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1028-1034
Number of pages7
JournalThe American Journal of Cardiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Oct 15 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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