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The complexity of heart rate variability predicts outcome in intensive care unit admitted patients with acute stroke


Heart rate variability (HRV) has been proposed as a predictor of acute stroke outcome. This study aimed to evaluate the predictive value of a novel non-linear method for analysis of HRV, multiscale entropy (MSE) and outcome of patients with acute stroke who had been admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).



The MSE of HRV was analysed from 1 h continuous ECG signals in ICU-admitted patients with acute stroke and controls. The complexity index was defined as the area under the MSE curve (scale 1-20). A favourable outcome was defined as modified Rankin scale 0-2 at 3 months after stroke.



The trends of MSE curves in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) (n=77) were apparently different from those in patients with non-AF stroke (n=150) and controls (n=60). In addition, the values of complexity index were significantly lower in the patients with non-AF stroke than in the controls (25.8±.3 vs. 32.3±4.3, p<0.001). After adjustment for clinical variables, patients without AF who had a favourable outcome were significantly related to higher complexity index values (OR=1.15, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.25, p<0.001). Importantly, the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for predicting a favourable outcome of patients with non-AF stroke from clinical parameters was 0.858 (95% CI 0.797 to 0.919) and significantly improved to 0.903 (95% CI 0.853 to 0.954) after adding on the parameter of complexity index values (p=0.020).



In ICU-admitted patients with acute stroke, early assessment of the complexity of HRV by MSE can help in predicting outcomes in patients without AF.


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