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Influence of Heavy Cigarette Smoking on Heart Rate Variability and Heart Rate Turbulence Parameters

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Background: Cigarette smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular events related with several mechanisms. The most suggested mechanism is increased activity of sympathetic nervous system. Heart rate variability (HRV) and heart rate turbulence (HRT) has been shown to be independent and powerful predictors of mortality in a specific group of cardiac patients. The goal of this study was to assess the effect of heavy cigarette smoking on cardiac autonomic function using HRV and HRT analyses.

Methods: Heavy cigarette smoking was defined as more than 20 cigarettes smoked per day. Heavy cigarette smokers, 69 subjects and nonsmokers 74 subjects (control group) were enrolled in this study. HRV and HRT analyses [turbulence onset (TO) and turbulence slope (TS)] were assessed from 24-hour Holter recordings.

Results: The values of TO were significantly higher in heavy cigarette smokers than control group (−1.150 ± 4.007 vs −2.454 ± 2.796, P = 0.025, respectively), but values of TS were not statistically different between two groups (10.352 ± 7.670 vs 9.613 ± 7.245, P = 0.555, respectively). Also, the number of patients who had abnormal TO was significantly higher in heavy cigarette smokers than control group (23 vs 10, P = 0.006). TO was correlated with the number of cigarettes smoked per day (r = 0.235, P = 0.004). While LF and LF/HF ratio were significantly higher, standard deviation of all NN intervals (SDNN), standard deviation of the 5-minute mean RR intervals (SDANN), root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD), and high-frequency (HF) values were significantly lower in heavy smokers. While, there was significant correlation between TO and SDNN, SDANN, RMSSD, LF, and high frequency (HF), only HF was correlated with TS.

Conclusion: Heavy cigarette smoking has negative effect on autonomic function. HRT is an appropriate noninvasive method to evaluate the effect of cigarette on autonomic function. Simultaneous abnormal HRT and HRV values may explain increased cardiovascular event risk in heavy cigarette smokers.
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Keywords: cigarette; heart rate turbulence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Cardiology, Ministry of Health Dışkapı Yıldırım Beyazıt Research and Educational Hospital, Ankara, Turkey 2: Department of Cardiology, Yuksek Ihtisas Heart-Education and Research Hospital, Ankara, Turkey

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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