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.
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 6months 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.