Autonomic and electrocardiographic findings in Parkinson's disease

Christopher H. Gibbons, David K. Simon, Meilin Huang, Barbara Tilley, Michael J. Aminoff, Jacquelyn L. Bainbridge, Matthew Brodsky, Roy Freeman, John Goudreau, Robert W. Hamill, Sheng T. Luo, Carlos Singer, Aleksandar Videnovic, Ivan Bodis-Wollner, Pei S. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Parkinson disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by motor and non-motor symptoms and signs. Many reports suggest that diminished heart rate variability occurs early, even prior to the cardinal signs of PD. In a longitudinal study of PD, we evaluated whether heart rate variability (HRV) obtained using a 10-second ECG tracing, and the electrocardiographic QT-interval would be associated with PD severity and progression. Subjects were derived from a longitudinal study of 1741 individuals with early, stable PD. The severity of PD was measured using the global statistical test (GST). In a subset, the heart rate corrected QT-interval (QTcB) was calculated for each electrocardiogram (ECG). The HRV was measured for each ECG and then transformed to fit a normal distribution. The baseline analysis included 653 subjects, with 256 completing the 5-year follow up study. There was an association (P < 0.05) between QTcB and PD severity in individuals that were taking QT-interval affecting drugs. A longer QT-interval at baseline was associated with more advanced PD at 5 years (P < 0.05), and greater disease progression over 5 years (P < 0.05). There was an association between diminished HRV and an orthostatic decrease in standing blood pressure at baseline in individuals with PD (P < 0.05). HRV was not associated with PD severity or progression. In conclusion, we were able to detect measurable associations between the QTcB interval and PD severity, PD severity 5 years later, and the change in disease over time. However, routine ECG tracings appear inadequate for the evaluation of autonomic function in PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-98
Number of pages6
JournalAutonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Autonomic
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Heart rate variability
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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