(HealthDay News) – For adults with type 1 diabetes there is a marked decrease in the low-frequency component of heart rate variability during spontaneous nocturnal hypoglycemia.
Minna L. Koivikko, MD, from the University of Oulu in Finland, and colleagues conducted a study involving 37 adults with type 1 diabetes who underwent continuous glucose monitoring via a subcutaneous sensor as well as recording of R-R interval or electrocardiogram for three nights. During periods of hypoglycemia (glucose <3.5mmol/L; minimum length of 20 minutes) and during a control nonhypoglycemic period (glucose >3.9mmol/L) of equal duration at the same time of night, heart rate variability was analyzed.
The researchers found that hypoglycemic and control episodes lasted a mean of 71 minutes, and heart rate or the high-frequency component of heart rate power spectrum did not change significantly during hypoglycemia. There was a significant decrease in the low-frequency component of heart rate variability seen with hypoglycemia. There was a significant positive association between the decline in the glucose concentration and the decrease of the low-frequency component of heart rate variability (r=0.48; P=0.04). During controlled sympathetic activation, the decrease in the low-frequency component of heart rate variability was closely related to an increase in muscle sympathetic nerve action recorded in 10 subjects.
“Spontaneous nocturnal hypoglycemia in patients with type 1 diabetes results in a reduction of the low-frequency component of heart rate, which is best explained by excessive sympathetic activation without a concomitant withdrawal of vagal outflow,” the authors write.
The study was funded by Polar Electro.