This study’s objective was to critically evaluate the literature surrounding heart rate variability (HRV) in people with epilepsy and to make recommendations as to how future research could be directed to facilitate and accelerate integration into clinical practice.
Research in HRV in people with epilepsy has been limited by inconsistent experimental protocols and studies that are often underpowered. HRV measurement has the potential to aid clinical epilepsy management in several possible ways. HRV may be useful in predicting which patients are likely to benefit from surgical interventions such as vagus nerve stimulation and focal cerebral resection. As well, HRV could eventually have utility as a biomarker of risk for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP).
However, at present, the inconsistent measurement protocols used in research are hindering translation into clinical practice. A minimum protocol for HRV evaluation, to be used in all studies involving epilepsy patients, is necessary to eventually allow HRV to become a useful tool for clinicians. The researchers propose a straightforward protocol, involving 5?minute measurements of root mean square of successive differences in wakefulness and light sleep.