New methods for the analysis of arrhythmias and their hemodynamic consequences have been applied in risk stratification, in particular to patients after myocardial infarction. This study investigates the suitability of short-term heart rate turbulence (HRT) analysis in comparison to heart rate and blood pressure variability as well as baroreceptor sensitivity analyses to characterise the regulatory differences between patients with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and healthy controls. In this study, 30 minutes data of non-invasive continuous blood pressure and ECGs of 37 DCM patients and 167 controls measured under standard resting conditions were analysed. The results show highly significant differences between DCM patients and controls in heart rate and blood pressure variability as well as in baroreceptor sensitivity parameters. Applying a combined heart rate-blood pressure trigger, ventricular premature beats were detected in 24.3% (9) of the DCM patients and 11.3% (19) of the controls. This fact demonstrates the limited applicability of short-term HRT analyses. However, the HRT parameters showed significant differences in this subgroup with ventricular premature beats (turbulence onset: DCM: 1.80±2.72, controls: - 4.34±3.10, p<0.001; turbulence slope: DCM: 6.75±5.50, controls: 21.30±17.72, p=0.021). Considering all (including HRT) parameters in the subgroup with ventricular beats, a discrimination rate between DCM patients and controls of 88.0% was obtained (max. 6 parameters). The corresponding value obtained for the total group was 86.3% (without HRT parameters). Comparable classification rates and high correlations between heart rate turbulence and variability and baroreflex parameters point to a more universal applicability of the latter methods
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