Heart rate variability in patients with untreated Parkinson’s disease


: Mika Kallio, Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Oulu University Hospital, FIN-90220 Oulu, Finland (fax: +358 83154544; e-mail: Mika.Kallio@oulu.fi).


The aim of this study was to evaluate cardiovascular responses as a marker of autonomic nervous system (ANS) disturbances in patients with untreated Parkinson’s disease (PD) and to assess the relationship between them and the clinical characteristics of PD. The ANS functions were investigated in 50 patients with PD and 55 healthy subjects by measuring standard cardiovascular autonomic reflexes and heart rate variability (HRV) at rest using spectral analysis (the autoregressive model and the fast Fourier transformation), the percentage of the counts of beat-to-beat variation greater than 50 ms and the fractal dimension. Significantly attenuated HRV and deficient blood pressure reaction to tilting were found in the PD patient group. The patients with hypokinesia/rigidity as the initial symptom of PD had a more pronounced HRV deficit than those with tremor onset. Untreated PD patients suffer significant failure in cardiovascular nervous system regulation, and in patients with hypokinesia/rigidity as their initial disease manifestation the risk of this ANS dysfunction is high. However, in the early stages of PD these changes did not reach significance at individual level.