Study objectives: We investigated the effects of β2-adrenergic agonists salmeterol and formoterol on heart rate variability (HRV) in adult asthmatic patients using time-domain measures of HRV.
Patients: Thirty-nine adult patients with asthma were studied. All patients showed a mild-to-moderate decrease in baseline FEV1. Any diseases that might have influenced the autonomic function were excluded. All patients underwent a complete physical examination and medical history that revealed no cardiovascular disease or medication.
Methods: The β2-adrenergic inhaled agonists salmeterol, 50 μg, and formoterol, 12 μg, were used in the study. HRV analysis was performed for each 5-min segment: 5 min and 10 min before inhalation of the study drug, and 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 min after inhalation. Time-domain parameters of HRV were calculated: (1) the SD all normal-to-normal intervals; (2) the SD of the mean of all normal-to-normal intervals in all 5-min segments of the entire recording; (3) the root mean square of differences between adjacent normal-to-normal intervals; (4) the mean of the SD of all normal-to-normal intervals in all the 5-min intervals; and (5) the SD of the SD of all normal-to-normal intervals in all the 5-min intervals.
Results: Baseline HRV parameters were not significantly different between formoterol and salmeterol groups. There were no significant differences in HRV parameters after formoterol and salmeterol inhalation. The HRV parameters in each 5-min segment in the formoterol group were not statistically significant different when compared to the same segment in the salmeterol group.
Conclusion: Salmeterol and formoterol have no short-term adverse effects on HRV.