Effects of vagus nerve stimulation on heart rate variability in children with epilepsy

HIRFANOĞLU T., Serdaroglu A., Cetin İ. İ. , KURT G., Capraz I. Y. , EKİCİ F., ...More

Epilepsy and Behavior, vol.81, pp.33-40, 2018 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 81
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2018.01.036
  • Journal Name: Epilepsy and Behavior
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.33-40
  • Keywords: Children, Epilepsy, Heart rate variability, Vagus nerve stimulation


© 2018 Elsevier Inc.Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) on heart rate variability (HRV) in children with epilepsy. Methods: The subgroups of HRV, namely time domain (Standard deviation of NN interval (SDNN), SDNN index, Standard deviation of the averages of NN intervals (SDANN), Root mean square of successive differences (RMMSD), Adjacent NN intervals differing by more than 50 ms in the entire recording divided by the total number of all NN intervals (PNN50), triangular index) and frequency domain (Low-frequency (LF), High-frequency (HF), LF/HF), were investigated in 20 pediatric patients before and after 6 and 12 months of VNS treatment during day and night by comparing their data with those of 20 control subjects. In addition, subgroups of age, epilepsy duration and localization, and antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) were also evaluated if they had further effects on basal HRV levels. Results: Increased heart rates (HRs); decreased SDNN, SDANN, RMMSD, and PNN50; and increased LF/HF ratios were identified before VNS therapy (p < 0.05). Even though remarkable improvement was seen after 6 months of VNS treatment (p < 0.05), no further changes were observed in 12-month compared with 6-month levels (p > 0.05) in all parameters, still even significantly lower than those of controls (p < 0.05). Longer duration of epilepsy and localization of epileptic focus, such as in the temporal lobe, were also found to further contribute to diminished basal HRV levels (p < 0.05). Conclusion: The cardiovascular system is under deep sympathetic influence in children with epilepsy. Although VNS seems to provide a substantial improvement by achieving increased parasympathetic effects in short-term therapy, the levels were still lower than those of healthy children after either short- or long-term therapy. Therefore, impaired cardiovascular autonomic regulation may be associated with the epileptic process itself as well as with the contribution of some additional factors. Overall, different aspects such as age, epilepsy duration, epileptic focus, seizure frequency, and AEDs should also be considered for their further possible effects on HRV during VNS therapy.