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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Mathematisch-Naturwissen­schaft­liche Fakultät - Kardiovaskuläre Physik

A Voss, A Busjahn, N Wessel, R Schurath, H. D Faulhaber, F. C Luft, and R Dietz (1996)

Familial and genetic influences on heart rate variability

J Electrocardiol, 29 Suppl:154–160.

The authors tested the hypothesis of a genetic influence on heart rate variability (HRV). This genetic influence was assessed in 62, twin pairs (30 monozygotic, 32 dizygotic). From all twins, long-term electrocardiographic records were obtained, edited, and analyzed. Heart rate variability analysis was performed on the basis of parameters from time-domain, frequency-domain, and nonlinear dynamics. First, the parameter distances between the two twins of a pair and between one of the two and a third randomly selected person of another age-matched twin pair (ST1) were compared. Second, the parameter distances between the two twins and the averaged parameter distances of these two twins to all other age-matched persons (ST2) were compared. Finally, the averaged differences in parameter values between monozygotic and dizygotic age-matched twin pairs were compared. For statistical analysis, the nonparametric Wilcoxon′s matched-pair signed rank test and parametric t-test for paired samples were used. Twin pairs show a significant lower difference in parameter values than other randomly selected and age-matched couples (P < .001 in ST1 and ST2). This reflects a considerable familial influence. Most parameters of the time-domain, none of the frequency-domain, and half of the nonlinear dynamics show significant differences between twin pairs and nontwin pairs. As a result of the comparison between monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs, a significant lower parameter difference in the monozygotic pairs (P < .05) is found. These results suggest that there is a genetic component in heart rate generation and HRV, in addition to family environmental influences. Analysis of HRV might become a useful method in phenotyping severe genetic changes in cardiovascular diseases.