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Pre-ictal heart rate changes: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-56
Number of pages9
Early online date8 Jan 2018
Accepted/In press3 Jan 2018
E-pub ahead of print8 Jan 2018
PublishedFeb 2018


King's Authors


Purpose To estimate the incidence of pre-ictal heart rate (HR) manifestations and to identify clinical and study-related factors modulating the estimate. Methods We searched articles recording concurrent pre-ictal EEG and HR in adults and children with epilepsy. Pre-ictal HR changes were classified as HR reduction (HRR) or increase (HRI). Studies reporting the total number of seizures and the number of seizures with pre-ictal HR changes were included in a random-effects meta-analysis. A random-effects meta-regression was used to identify variables affecting study heterogeneity. Results Thirty studies, including 1110 participants and 2957 seizures, were included. The meta-analysis showed a pooled incidence of pre-ictal HRI of 36/100 seizures (95% CI 22–50). The pre-ictal HRI incidence was 44/100 seizures (95% CI 33–55) in studies including temporal lobe epilepsy, 55/100 seizures (95% CI 41–68) in studies enrolling adults and 35/100 seizures (95% CI 16–58) when patients on antiepileptic drugs were included. The meta-regression showed that the age group, the length of the pre-ictal period, the incidence of ictal tachycardia and the time of onset of the pre-ictal HRI had a significant impact on estimates variability. The pooled incidence of pre-ictal HRR was 0/100 seizures (95% CI 0–1). Conclusion Review of bias evaluation and methods assessment disclosed several major limitations in the evidence-base. HR monitoring could be valuable to identify seizures prior to their apparent onset, opening the possibility to early interventions. Additional effort is necessary to delineate the target population who might benefit from its use and the mechanisms sustaining the pre-ictal cardiac changes.

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