Heart rate variability in intensive care

Brahm Goldstein*, Timothy G. Buchman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Clinicians have long been aware that the normal oscillations in a heart beat are lost during fetal distress, during the early stages of heart failure, with advanced aging, and with critical illness and injury. However, these oscillations, or variability in heart rate and other cardiovascular signals, have largely been ignored or discounted as variances from the mean or average values. It is becoming increasingly clear that these oscillations reflect the dynamic interactions of many physiologic processes, including neuroautonomic regulation of heart rate and blood pressure. We present a synthesis and review of the current literature concerning heart rate variability with special reference to intensive care. This article describes the background of time series analysis of heart rate variability including time and frequency domain and nonlinear measurements. The implications and potential for time series analysis of variability in cardiovascular signals in clinical diagnosis and management of critically ill and injured patients are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-265
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Intensive Care Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


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