Background: Frequent cessations of respiration can greatly increase the prevalence rate of arrhythmia. It has been confirmed that cardiac activity is regulated by autonomic nervous system (ANS). And heart rate variability (HRV) is widely used as a method to evaluate the function of ANS. Therefore, we analyzed whether apnea can affect the balance and normal function of ANS using short-term HRV indices.
Methods: Forty-five healthy subjects were asked to breathe normally and hold their breathing to simulate 10 times apnea. Thirty-six patients from the dataset of a sleep laboratory for the diagnosis of sleep disorders with 10 times apnea were included in analysis. We calculated short-term HRV indices of subjects in normal respiratory and apneic states, respectively.
Results: Compared with normal respiratory state, respiration cease would lead to the values of the mean-RR, nLF, LF/HF, and α1 were significantly increase whereas the values of rMSSD and nHF were significantly decrease.
Conclusions: Cessations of respiration would lead to an imbalance in function of ANS, as well as an increase in fractal characteristics of the heart. These changes in physiological state are likely to induce and cause the occurrence of arrhythmia, which is regulated by ANS.