Validation of pulse rate variability as a surrogate for heart rate variability in chronically instrumented rabbits

Peter R. Pellegrino, Alicia M. Schiller, Irving H. Zucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Heart rate variability (HRV) is a function of cardiac autonomic tone that is widely used in both clinical and animal studies. In preclinical studies, HRV measures are frequently derived using the arterial pulse waveform from an implanted pressure telemetry device, termed pulse rate variability (PRV), instead of the electrocardiogram signal in accordance with clinical guidelines. The acceptability of PRV as a surrogate for HRV in instrumented animals is unknown. Using rabbits implanted with intracardiac leads and chronically implanted pressure transducers, we investigated the correlation and agreement of time-domain, frequency-domain, and nonlinear indexes of HRV and PRV at baseline. We also investigated the effects of ventricular pacing and autonomic blockade on both measures. At baseline, HRV and PRV time- and frequency-domain parameters showed robust correlations and moderate to high agreement, whereas nonlinear parameters showed slightly weaker correlations and varied agreement. Ventricular pacing almost completely eliminated HRV, and spectral analysis of the PRV signal revealed a HRV-independent rhythm. After cardiac autonomic blockade with atropine or metoprolol, the changes in time- and non-normalized frequency-domain measures of PRV continued to show strong correlations and moderate to high agreement with corresponding changes in HRV measures. Blockade-induced changes in nonlinear PRV indexes correlated poorly with HRV changes and showed weak agreement. These results suggest that time- and frequency-domain measures of PRV are acceptable surrogates for HRV even in the context of changing cardiac autonomic tone, but caution should be used when nonlinear measures are a primary end point or when HRV is very low as HRV-independent rhythms may predominate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H97-H109
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014


  • Heart rate variability
  • Pulse interval
  • Pulse rate variability
  • Sympathovagal balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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