The validation of heart rate variability in individuals with spinal cord injury
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The current classification system for spinal cord injury (SCI) considers only somatic information and neglects autonomic damage after injiuy. Heart rate variability (HRV) has the potential to be a valuable measure of cardiac autonomic control after (SCI). Five individuals with tetraplegia and four able-bodied controls underwent 1 min continuous ECG recordings during rest, after Metoprolol administration (max dose=3x5mg) and after Atropine administration (0.02mg/kg) in both supine and 40° head-up tilt. After Metoprolol administration there was a 61.8% decrease in the LF:HF ratio in the SCI participants suggesting that the LF:HF ratio is a reflection of cardiac sympathetic outflow. After Atropine administration there was a 99.1% decrease in the HF power in the SCI participants suggesting that HF power is highly representative of cardiac parasympathetic outflow. There were no significant differences between the SCI and able-bodied participants. Thus, HRV measures are a valid index of cardiac autonomic control after SCI.