External Counterpulsation Increases Beat-to-Beat Heart Rate Variability in Patients with Ischemic Stroke

Li Xiong, Ge Tian, Li Wang, Wenhua Lin, Xiangyan Chen, Thomas Wai Hong Leung, Yannie Oi Yan Soo, Lawrence Ka Sing Wong
Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases: the Official Journal of National Stroke Association 2017, 26 (7): 1487-1492

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: External counterpulsation (ECP) is a noninvasive method used to augment cerebral perfusion in ischemic stroke. However, the response of beat-to-beat heart rate variability (HRV) in patients with ischemic stroke during ECP remains unknown.

METHODS: Forty-eight patients with unilateral ischemic stroke at the subacute stage and 14 healthy controls were recruited. Beat-to-beat heart rate before, during, and after ECP was monitored. The frequency components of HRV were calculated using power spectral analysis. Very low frequency (VLF; <.04 Hz), low frequency (LF; .04-.15 Hz), high frequency (HF; .15-.40 Hz), total power spectral density (TP; <.40 Hz), and LF/HF ratio were calculated.

RESULTS: In stroke patients, although there were no statistical differences in all of the HRV components, the HRV at VLF showed a trend of increase during ECP compared with baseline in the left-sided stroke patients (P = .083). After ECP, the HRV at LF and TP remained higher than baseline in the right-sided stroke patients (LF, 209.4 versus 117.9, P = .050; TP, 1275.6 versus 390.2, P = .017, respectively). Besides, the HRV at TP also increased after ECP compared with baseline in the left-sided stroke patients (563.0 versus 298.3, P = .029).

CONCLUSIONS: Irrespective of the side of the ischemia, patients showed an increased beat-to-beat HRV after ECP. Additionally, sympathetic and parasympathetic cardiac modulations were increased after ECP in patients after right-sided subacute stroke.

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