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August 7, 2002

Heart Rate Variability During the Week of September 11, 2001

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2002;288(5):575. doi:10.1001/jama.288.5.571

To the Editor: Catastrophes such as war or earthquake are known to result in increased incidence of sudden cardiac death among survivors, but the physiological mechanisms remain unknown.1,2 The events of September 11, 2001, produced psychological distress among large numbers of people who were not physically affected by them. We hypothesized that such stress may lead to autonomic dysfunction, which may be reflected in changes in heart rate variability (HRV). Diminished HRV is associated with an increased incidence of cardiovascular and sudden death in patients both with and without coronary artery disease (CAD).3,4

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