Cardiovascular Engineering and Technology

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 219–228 | Cite as

Effect of Loss of Heart Rate Variability on T-Wave Heterogeneity and QT Variability in Heart Failure Patients: Implications in Ventricular Arrhythmogenesis

  • Sachin Nayyar
  • Muhammad A. HasanEmail author
  • Kurt C. Roberts-Thomson
  • Thomas Sullivan
  • Mathias Baumert


Heart rate variability (HRV) modulates dynamics of ventricular repolarization. A diminishing value of HRV is associated with increased vulnerability to life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias, however the causal relationship is not well-defined. We evaluated if fixed-rate atrial pacing that abolishes the effect of physiological HRV, will alter ventricular repolarization wavefronts and is relevant to ventricular arrhythmogenesis. The study was performed in 16 subjects: 8 heart failure patients with spontaneous ventricular tachycardia [HFVT], and 8 subjects with structurally normal hearts (H Norm). The T-wave heterogeneity descriptors [total cosine angle between QRS and T-wave loop vectors (TCRT, negative value corresponds to large difference in the 2 loops), T-wave morphology dispersion, T-wave loop dispersion] and QT intervals were analyzed in a beat-to-beat manner on 3-min records of 12-lead surface ECG at baseline and during atrial pacing at 80 and 100 bpm. The global T-wave heterogeneity was expressed as mean values of each of the T-wave morphology descriptors and variability in QT intervals (QTV) as standard deviation of QT intervals. Baseline T-wave morphology dispersion and QTV were higher in HFVT compared to H Norm subjects (p ≤ 0.02). While group differences in T-wave morphology dispersion and T-wave loop dispersion remained unaltered with atrial pacing, TCRT tended to fall more in HFVT patients compared to H Norm subjects (interaction p value = 0.086). Atrial pacing failed to reduce QTV in both groups, however group differences were augmented (p < 0.0001). Atrial pacing and consequent loss of HRV appears to introduce unfavorable changes in ventricular repolarization in HFVT subjects. It widens the spatial relationship between wavefronts of ventricular depolarization and repolarization. This may partly explain the concerning relation between poorer HRV and the risk of ventricular arrhythmias.


T-Wave heterogeneity QT variability Cardiomyopathy Atrial pacing Autonomic modulation 



Dr. Nayyar is supported by the Robert J. Craig Electrophysiology Scholarship from the University of Adelaide. Drs. Roberts-Thomson is funded by the National Heart Foundation of Australia and the Sylvia & Charles Viertel Foundation Australia. Dr Baumert is supported by a fellowship and grant from the Australian Research Council (ARC DP 110102049).

Conflict of interests


Statement of Human Studies

All patients provided informed consent. The study was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of the Royal Adelaide Hospital and the University of Adelaide.


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sachin Nayyar
    • 1
  • Muhammad A. Hasan
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Kurt C. Roberts-Thomson
    • 1
  • Thomas Sullivan
    • 4
  • Mathias Baumert
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Heart Rhythm DisordersUniversity of Adelaide and Royal Adelaide HospitalAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.School of Electrical & Electronic EngineeringUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Division of CardiologyUniversity Health NetworkTorontoCanada
  4. 4.School of Public HealthUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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