A decreased LFP (low-frequency power) spectral component of HRV [HR (heart rate) variability] is a risk factor for sudden death in patients with CHF (chronic heart failure). In the present study, we evaluated factors (age, arterial pressures and HR) influencing LFP and HFP (high-frequency power) components in short-term recordings during controlled breathing in patients with CHF or hypertension, and healthy normotensive subjects. In patients with CHF, we also compared LFP values with known markers of sudden death [NYHA (New York Heart Association) class, HR and ejection fraction]. All HRV measures were significantly lower in patients with CHF than in hypertensive and normotensive subjects (P<0.001), and in hypertensive than in normotensive subjects (P<0.05). Stepwise multiple regression analysis showed that, in patients with CHF, LFP was inversely associated with NYHA class (β=−0.5, P<0.0001) and HR (β=−0.2, P=0.001) and was positively associated with ejection fraction (β=0.28, P<0.0001). In patients with CHF, LFP remained unchanged with age. In normotensive and hypertensive subjects, HFP decreased with age, but in patients with CHF it did not. In the ≥60<70 and ≥70 years of age subgroups, we found no difference between HFP in the three groups studied. Hence, in normotensives and hypertensives, LFP tended to diminish with age (β=−0.4, P<0.0001 in normotensives; β=−0.4, P<0.001 in hypertensives) and was inversely associated with HR (β=−0.2, P=0.002 in normotensives; β=−0.3, P=0.002 in hypertensives). Conversely, in patients with CHF, LFP is predominantly influenced by NYHA class, HR and ejection fraction, but not by age. LFP might therefore increase the sensitivity of factors already used in stratifying the risk of sudden death in patients with CHF.

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