Circadian variation of spectral indices of heart rate variability after myocardial infarction

Federico Lombardi, Giulia Sandrone, Andrea Mortara, Maria Teresa La Rovere, Ettore Colombo, Stefano Guzzetti, Alberto Malliani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The circadian variations of spectral indices of heart rate variability were analyzed in 20 patients 4 weeks after a first and uncomplicated myocardial infarction (MI) and in 20 control subjects. R-R interval and variance showed a characteristic day-night pattern with a significant reduction of the latter parameter in patients after MI (10967 ± 1109 msec2 vs 16860 ± 2132 msec2). Control subjects were characterized by a predominance of low-frequency (∼0.1 Hz) component during the day and of high-frequency (∼0.25 Hz) component during the night, which reflected the expected 24-hour pattern of variation of sympathovagal balance. A 24-hour elevation (64 ± 3 normalized units [nu] vs 56 ± 2 nu; p <0.05) of the low-frequency component and a smaller (23 ± 2 nu vs 32 ± 2 nu; p <0.05) high-frequency component during the night differentiated patients after MI from subjects. The difference between the two groups was even more evident when the 24-hour sympathovagal balance was assessed with the low frequency/high frequency ratio. Thus spectral analysis of heart rate variability indicates that in patients after MI there is an alteration of neural control mechanisms as indicated by the presence of signs of sympathetic activation and by the attenuation of the nocturnal increase in vagal tone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1521-1529
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Heart Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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