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Heart rate variability in critical care medicine: a systematic review.

Intensive Care Med Exp; 5(1): 33, 2017 Dec.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28702940


Heart rate variability (HRV) has been used to assess cardiac autonomic activity in critically ill patients, driven by translational and biomarker research agendas. Several clinical and technical factors can interfere with the measurement and/or interpretation of HRV. We systematically evaluated how HRV parameters are acquired/processed in critical care medicine.


PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (1996-2016) were searched for cohort or case-control clinical studies of adult (>18 years) critically ill patients using heart variability analysis. Duplicate independent review and data abstraction. Study quality was assessed using two independent approaches: Newcastle-Ottowa scale and Downs and Black instrument. Conduct of studies was assessed in three categories: (1) study design and objectives, (2) procedures for measurement, processing and reporting of HRV, and (3) reporting of relevant confounding factors.


Our search identified 31/271 eligible studies that enrolled 2090 critically ill patients. A minority of studies (15; 48%) reported both frequency and time domain HRV data, with non-normally distributed, wide ranges of values that were indistinguishable from other (non-critically ill) disease states. Significant heterogeneity in HRV measurement protocols was observed between studies; lack of adjustment for various confounders known to affect cardiac autonomic regulation was common. Comparator groups were often omitted (n = 12; 39%). This precluded meaningful meta-analysis.


Marked differences in methodology prevent meaningful comparisons of HRV parameters between studies. A standardised set of consensus criteria relevant to critical care medicine are required to exploit advances in translational autonomic physiology.