Increased sympathetic modulation in breast cancer survivors determined by measurement of heart rate variability

Karolina Majerova, Milan Zvarik, Itay Ricon-Becker, Tsipi Hanalis-Miller, Iveta Mikolaskova, Vladimir Bella, Boris Mravec, Luba Hunakova*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Experimental and clinical studies have shown that the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) stimulates cancer progression and reduces the efficacy of oncological treatment. These effects may be reduced by pharmacological and psychotherapeutical approaches attenuating SNS tone. Therefore, it is necessary to identify those cancer survivors whose sympathetic modulation is excessively increased. For determination of SNS modulation, non-invasive method of heart rate variability (HRV) is widely used. In our study, HRV was determined from 5-min heartbeat recordings in healthy volunteers and in women with benign or malignant breast neoplasias, both in newly diagnosed patients and in women after initial treatment. We showed impaired cardio-vagal regulation in breast cancer patients (linear methods) and also found the increased sympathetic modulation indicated by the non-linear (the symbolic dynamics 0V%) parameter. This non-linear HRV analysis seems to be more sensitive than the linear one, indicating significant differences also in survivors after initial therapy in comparison to healthy controls. The lower sample entropy revealed reduced complexity in heart rate control in both breast cancer survivors groups. These findings suggest that HRV detection represents an inexpensive, easy, and reliable method for identification of those patients with breast cancer whose sympathetic modulation is significantly increased and in which the interventions, aimed at normalizing the balance in the autonomic nervous system (e.g. psychotherapy, biofeedback, treatment by β-blockers) may be the most effective.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14666
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


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