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Monday, April 16, 2012

Heart rate turbulence during acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is associated with an increased incidence of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. Heart rate turbulence (HRT) parameters were applied during withdrawal to estimate cardiac regulation during treatment with clomethiazole.

Twenty-two patients suffering from alcohol withdrawal syndrome were included in the study. Heart rate regulation was obtained by means of Holter ECG analyzing time intervals before medication, and 2 and 6h after medication. Slope and onset of HRT were calculated in addition to heart rate variability (HRV) parameters. Furthermore, we calculated the slope and the onset of ectopic beat-like events.

Heart rate variability parameters indicated a minor reduction of vagal modulation during withdrawal syndrome. Especially, the fractal scaling exponent BBI alpha1 (4–16) indicated the autonomic shift. In contrast to HRV parameters, no significant changes were observed in the HRT parameters. Significant correlations were observed between severity of withdrawal, as assessed by the AWS scale, and the fractal scaling exponent BBI alpha2 (16–64), and the onset and the slope of HRT of ectopic beat-like activity.

Increased sympathetic modulation during withdrawal and clomethiazole treatment is not associated with changes of heart rate turbulence parameters predictive of cardiac death after myocardial infarction.

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