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Heart rate variability and n-3 fatty acids in patients with chronic renal failure--a pilot study.

Clin Nephrol. 1998; 49(2):102-6 (ISSN: 0301-0430)

Christensen JH; Aarøe J; Knudsen N; Dideriksen K; Kornerup HJ; Dyerberg J; Schmidt EB
Department of Endocrinology, Aalborg Hospital, Denmark.

Patients with chronic renal failure (CRF) often have autonomic cardiac dysfunction, which can be assessed by measuring heart rate variability (HRV). This dysfunction prediposes the patients to sudden cardiac death. This study describes 24-hour HRV in patients with CRF compared to HRV in patients with a previous myocardial infarction (MI). Furthermore, associations between HRV in patients with CRF and the content of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in cell membranes were examined, because n-3 PUFA may improve HRV. Twenty-nine patients with CRF treated with dialysis were enrolled. A 24-hour Holter recording was obtained at baseline and the HRV variables, RR (= mean of all normal RR intervals during the 24-hour recording) and SDNN (= standard deviation of all normal RR intervals in the entire 24-hour recording) were analyzed. Also, granulocyte fatty acid composition was determined. The patients were allocated to dietary supplementation with either 5.2 g of n-3 PUFA or a placebo oil (olive oil) daily for 12 weeks in a double-blind design. At the end of the supplementation period the Holter recording and blood sampling were repeated. At baseline the CRF patients' mean SDNN ws 86 ms compared to 118 ms (p < 0.01) in patients with a previous MI. After supplementation with either n-3 PUFA or placebo a highly significant correlation was observed between the content of n-3 PUFA in cell membranes and HRV (r = 0.71, p < 0.01). Furthermore, when the patients were dichotomized according to their mean SDNN, it was found, that those with the highest SDNN had a higher content of n-3 PUFA in cell membranes compared to those with the lowest SDNN (7.8% vs 4.2%, p < 0.05). In conclusion, HRV was decreased in CRF patients indicating a cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction. The positive correlation between the n-3 PUFA content in cell membranes and HRV suggests that the effects of an increased intake of n-3 PUFA in CRF patients should be further studied.

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