Night-to-night variability of sleep apnea detected by cyclic variation of heart rate during long-term continuous ECG monitoring

Junichiro Hayano, Emi Yuda

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Sleep apnea is common in patients with cardiovascular disease and is a factor that worsens prognosis. Holter 24-h ECG screening for sleep apnea is beneficial in the care of these patients, but due to high night-to-night variability of sleep apnea, it can lead to misdiagnosis and misclassification of disease severity. Methods: To investigate the long-term dynamic behavior of sleep apnea, seven-day ECGs recorded with a patch ECG recorder in 120 patients were analyzed for the cyclic variation of heart rate (CVHR) during sleep periods as determined by a built-in three-axis accelerometer. Results: The frequency of CVHR (Fcv) showed considerable night-to-night variability (coefficient of variance, 66 ± 35%), which was consistent with the night-to-night variability in apnea-hypopnea index and oxygen desaturation index reported in earlier studies. In patients with presumed moderate-to-severe sleep apnea (Fcv > 15 cph at least one night), it was missed on 62% of nights, and on at least one night in 88% of patients. The CV of Fcv was negatively correlated with the average of Fcv, suggesting that patients with mild sleep apnea show greater night-to-night variability and would benefit from long-term assessment. The average Fcv was higher in the supine position, but the night-to-night variability was not explained by the night-to-night variability of time spent in the supine position. Conclusions: CVHR analysis of long-term ambulatory ECG recordings is useful for improving the reliability of screening for sleep apnea without placing an extra burden on patients with cardiovascular disease and their care.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere12901
    JournalAnnals of Noninvasive Electrocardiology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar


    • Holter ECG
    • day-to-day variation
    • heart rate dynamics
    • heart rate variability
    • intraweek variation
    • long-term ECG monitoring
    • predictive accuracy
    • sensitivity
    • specificity

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
    • Physiology (medical)


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