Heart Rate Variability Markers as Correlates of Survival in Recipients of Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation

Caroline Scheiber, PhD; Laura Johnston, MD; Mary Melissa Packer, MA; Richard Gevirtz, PhD; Katharine S. Edwards, PhD; Oxana Palesh, PhD, MPH


Objectives: To assess pre-/post-transplantation changes in autonomic tone, as measured by heart rate variability (HRV), among patients undergoing hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) and to look at those changes as they relate to post-transplantation survival rates. 

Sample & Setting: Data were derived from a sample of 27 English-speaking patients undergoing allogeneic or autologous HCT at Stanford University. 

Methods & Variables: A survival analysis using the Kaplan–Meier estimator was employed to explore whether increased HRV would enhance survival probabilities over time among patients undergoing HCT.

Results: An increased probability of survival was significantly related to increases in two HRV indexes: root mean square of successive differences and high frequency power.

Implications for Nursing: HRV may be a useful predictor of mortality among patients undergoing HCT. Interventions deliverable by nurses could be used to enhance HRV for patients identified as being at risk for early mortality.

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