Introduction: Heart rate turbulence (HRT) is a powerful novel predictor for cardiovascular mortality. Chronic congestive heart failure is associated with abnormal HRT. Whether antiadrenergic beta-blocker therapy can restore control of HRT in patients with chronic congestive heart failure is unknown. Methods and Results: A 24-hour Holter ECG recording was obtained before and 1 and 3 months after titrated addition of atenolol therapy in 10 consecutive patients with advanced congestive heart failure. Two parameters derived from HRT, turbulence slope (TS) and turbulence onset (TO), and time- and frequency-domain heart rate variability (HRV) parameters (SDNN, RMSSD, VLF, LF, HF) from 24-hour ECG were compared before and after beta-blocker therapy, together with the same parameters in age-matched normal control. Results showed that TS (3.1 ± 2.2 vs 6.2 ± 3.0; P = 0.001) and all HRV parameters were increased after 3 months of atenolol treatment. No changes in TO were evident (0.6 ± 0.5 vs -0.2 ± 1.3; P = 0.13). The improvement of TS and the vagally mediated parameters of mean R-R interval, RMSSD, and the HF component of HRV were positively correlated. Conclusion: Abnormal HRT caused by chronic congestive heart failure can be restored by beta-blocker therapy. The evolution of TS was positively correlated with measures of vagal modulation of heart rate.
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