In dogs with spontaneous heart disease, an electronically generated measurement of cardiac vagal tone, the cardiac index of parasympathetic activity, was a sensitive, simple and inexpensive measure of the severity of heart failure. Dogs with cardiac disease and an index score less than 3 were at 15˙8 (95 per cent confidence interval 2˙9 to 87˙2) times the risk of dying within a year than those with a score of 3 and over. The measurement of the index provided an objective and reliable beat-by-beat measurement of cardiac vagal tone, which was prognostically useful in dogs with heart disease.
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