Cardiac resynchronization therapy modulates peripheral sympathetic activity

Pei Lin Xiao, Cheng Cai, Pei Zhang, Christopher V. DeSimone, Dereen K. Ernst, Yue Hui Yin, Peng Sheng Chen, Yong Mei Cha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Heightened sympathetic nerve activity has been associated with poorer prognosis in patients with reduced left ventricular systolic function (ie, heart failure with reduced ejection fraction [HFrEF]). Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) on sympathetic nerve activity, measured by average skin sympathetic nerve activity (aSKNA). Methods: This prospective study enrolled 36 patients with HFrEF who received CRT. Ten patients who received an implantable cardioverter–defibrillator for primary prevention served as controls. Patient clinical data, echocardiographic variables, and aSKNA at baseline and 3-month follow-up were collected. Results: CRT patients who exhibited wider QRS duration had higher aSKNA (1.52 ± 0.65 μV vs 0.97 ± 0.49 μV; P = .027) compared to the control group at baseline. In the CRT group, patients with QRS duration ≥150 ms had higher aSKNA than those with QRS duration <150 ms (1.67 ± 0.63 μV vs 1.19 ± 0.51 μV; P =.039). After CRT, left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) improved from 29.6% to 35.4% (P = .001). aSKNA decreased significantly (1.52 ± 0.65 μV vs 1.31 ± 0.63 μV; P = .018). Seventeen of the 36 CRT patients were CRT responders, with LVEF improvement ≥5% at 3-month follow-up. aSKNA significantly decreased from 1.47 to 1.15 μV (P = .003) in CRT responders but was unchanged in nonresponders (1.44 ± 0.69 to 1.37 ± 0.70; P = .61). After CRT, a significant reduction in aSKNA was associated with improvement in LVEF (r = 0.638; P = .001). Conclusion: CRT reduces elevated sympathetic activity in HFrEF patients, accompanied by improvement in systolic function at short-term follow-up. The reduction of sympathetic activity is mainly seen in CRT responders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1139-1146
Number of pages8
JournalHeart rhythm
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy
  • Heart failure
  • Heart rate variability
  • Skin sympathetic nerve activity
  • Sympathetic nerve system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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