Spectral analysis of short term R-Tapex interval variability during sinus rhythm and fixed atrial rate

F. Lombardi, G. Sandrone, A. Porta, D. Torzillo, G. Terranova, G. Baselli, S. Cerutti, A. Malliani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Analysis of heart rate variability has been proven useful in stratifying post myocardial patients at risk and in evaluating autonomic dysfunction. Recently augmented inter-lead variability of the QT interval has been associated with increased mortality as a result of arrhythmia and proposed as a marker of dispersion of ventricular repolarization. As the duration of the QT interval is largely dependent upon the length of the preceding cardiac cycle it is tempting to analyse whether neural mechanisms might also directly exert additional modulation. Using autoregressive algorithms we therefore analysed RR and R-Tapex interval variabilities in 15 normal subjects during sinus rhythm and in six patients with a fixed atrial rate. In controls mean R-Tapex interval and variance measured on the vector magnitude were, respectively, 245 ± 6 ms and 5.1 ± 0.7 ms2. Spectral analysis of R-Tapex indicated the presence of two spectral components which corresponded to the low and high frequency components of heart rate variability. In R-Tapex variability, high frequency (44 ± 4nu) was predominant over low frequency (29 ± 4nu). During controlled respiration, a manoeuvre associated with enhanced vagal modulation of sinus node, there was a further increase in high frequency (58 ± 4 nu) whereas during tilt the low frequency component of R-Tapex variability became predominant (57 ± 6 nu). In patients with a fixed atrial rate, variance was extremely low (3 ± 0.9 ms2) and only a respiration-related high frequency component was recognizable in spectral analysis of RR and R-Tapex variabilities. This component was likely to depend upon mechanically induced changes in cardiac vector orientation. These data indicate that during sinus rhythm short-term R-Tapex interval variability is characterized by the same rhythmical components present in RR variability. However, the presence of a very low variance and of only a high frequency component in patients in whom the physiological variability of sinus node is abolished by atrial pacing, suggests that neural modulatory mechanisms do not exert a direct effect on the length of the R-Tapex interval.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-778
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Heart Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Spectral analysis
  • Sympathetic modulation
  • Ventricular repolarization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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