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Cosinor Analysis of Heart Rate Variability in Ambulatory Migraineurs


Address all correspondence to Dr. T. Takeshima, Division of Neurology, Institute of Neurological Sciences, Tottori University Faculty of Medicine, 36-1 Nishimachi, Yonago 683-8504, Japan.


Objective.—To clarify whether the circadian rhythm of heart rate variability parameters can be identified in patients with migraine during a headache-free period and to identify any specific pattern of the circadian rhythm of heart rate variability, using time-domain and spectral analysis and cosinor rhythm analysis of heart rate variability during normal daily activity.

Methods.—Forty-eight–hour Holter electrocardiograms were recorded for 27 patients with migraine during headache-free periods and 24 healthy controls during free activity. The circadian rhythms of heart rate fluctuation parameters, that is, mean interval, standard deviation, root-mean-square successive differences (RMSSD), %RR50, and low (0.020 to 0.150 Hz) and high frequency (0.150 to 0.400 Hz) heart rate fluctuations were analyzed with the group mean cosinor method.

Results.—The group mean cosinor analysis and the acrophase-amplitude analysis demonstrated significant differences in circadian rhythm in SD, RMSSD, %RR50, and high frequency between the group with migraine and controls. The amplitudes of SD, RMSSD, %RR50, and high frequency in the group with migraine were smaller than those in controls, which implied parasympathetic hypofunction in migraineurs. There were no significant differences in the MESOR (midline estimating statistic of rhythms) of the analyzed heart rate parameters except for low frequency. The MESOR of low frequency in the migraineurs was significantly smaller than that in the controls.

Conclusions.—Patients with migraine have hypofunction in the parasympathetic nervous system during normal daily activity in the headache-free period.