Acute Crit Care.  2021 May;36(2):151-161. 10.4266/acc.2020.00703.

Continuous heart rate variability and electroencephalography monitoring in severe acute brain injury: a preliminary study

  • 1Department of Neurology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Department of Neurology, Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea


Decreases in heart rate variability have been shown to be associated with poor outcomes in severe acute brain injury. However, it is unknown whether the changes in heart rate variability precede neurological deterioration in such patients. We explored the changes in heart rate variability measured by electrocardiography in patients who had neurological deterioration following severe acute brain injury, and examined the relationship between heart rate variability and electroencephalography parameters.
Retrospective analysis of 25 patients who manifested neurological deterioration after severe acute brain injury and underwent simultaneous electroencephalography plus electrocardiography monitoring.
Eighteen electroencephalography channels and one simultaneously recorded electrocardiography channel were segmented into epochs of 120-second duration and processed to compute 10 heart rate variability parameters and three quantitative electroencephalography parameters. Raw electroencephalography of the epochs was also assessed by standardized visual interpretation and categorized based on their background abnormalities and ictalinterictal continuum patterns. The heart rate variability and electroencephalography parameters showed consistent changes in the 2-day period before neurological deterioration commenced. Remarkably, the suppression ratio and background abnormality of the electroencephalography parameters had significant reverse correlations with all heart rate variability parameters.
We observed a significantly progressive decline in heart rate variability from the day before the neurological deterioration events in patients with severe acute brain injury were first observed.


brain injuries; critical care; electrocardiography; electroencephalography
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