Time-domain heart rate variability (HRV) parameters and the correlation between echocardiography and Holter examinations in dogs with myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD) were determined. Holter examination was also performed at different time frames: an entire 24-hour period, a four-hour period during sleep, and a four-hour period while awake. Ten healthy (control group) and 28 MMVD dogs, 15 with and 13 without heart failure, were evaluated. The SDANN (sd of the mean normal RR intervals for all five-minute segments during 24-hour Holter) and pNN50 (percentage of differences between adjacent normal RR intervals that are >50 ms computed over 24-hour Holter) variables were significantly lower in the dogs with MMVD heart failure. The differences in HRV between the groups were only detected during the 24-hour evaluation period (P < 0.05). There were high correlations (canonical analysis) between Holter and echocardiography examinations when considering pNN50, SDANN, and LA/AO (left atrial to aortic root ratio) (r = 0.92; P < 0.05), indicating that both are important in evaluating MMVD dogs. SDANN and pNN50 are measures of parasympathetic control of the heart, and thus, it is possible to infer that the MMVD dogs exhibit parasympathetic withdrawal during the development of heart failure.
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