Assessment of Autonomic Dysfunction in Acute Stroke Patients at a Tertiary Care Hospital OC28-OC31
Dr. Prasanna Karthik,
New No 16, Third Street, Bakthavatsalam Nagar, Adyar, Chennai, Tamilnadu-600020.
Introduction: In patients who present with acute cerebro-vascular disease, autonomic function testing is usually not given its due importance. This is because of the complex nature of the autonomic function tests and the relative technical difficulty faced in administering the tests to the patients. A simple and non-invasive method to assess the autonomic dysfunction is measurement of resting Heart Rate Variability (HRV).
Aim: To study the pattern of autonomic dysfunction among patients admitted with acute stroke and to study the relationship between autonomic dysfunction and the morbidity and mortality associated with acute stroke.
Materials and Methods: The study was carried out on 97 patients who were admitted with diagnosis of acute stroke. Patients with conduction abnormalities on ECG were excluded from the study. Resting ECG tracings were obtained for a period of 5 minutes. The frequency domain analysis of HRV was performed by a Fast Fourier transform of the RR intervals. The High Frequency (HF) was representative of the parasympathetic activity while low frequency is representative of baroreceptor mediated parasympathetic and sympathetic activity and Low Frequency (LF)/HF ratio was a measure of the sympathovagal balance. Statistical analysis was carried out with student’s t-test and chi-square test and p-value = 0.05 was taken to be statistically significant.
Results: The mean age of the patients was 60.84±14.12 years. A total of 41 patients were females and 77 patients had ischemic stroke. Out of the total 97, 60 patients had evidence suggestive of increased sympathetic activity with a mean LF/HF ratio of 2.03±0.88. These patients had significantly higher mean systolic BP, diastolic BP and National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) values when compared to patients with reduced LF/HF ratio (166.33±24.81 vs 148.54±19.42, p=0.0003, 100.33±18.73 vs 88.76±12.66, p=0.0013, 15.77±8.22 vs 11.49±6.63, p=0.0088 respectively). These patients also had a higher mortality rate.
Conclusion: This study highlights the problem of autonomic dysfunction among patients with stroke. Patients with autonomic dysfunction had higher morbidity and mortality in the acute phase of stroke in this study and also had higher blood pressure readings. This is a small scale study whose findings need to be validated further by larger population studies.