Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Research Advisor

Kay F. Engelhardt


Cynthia K. Russell Jack W. Buchanan A. Osama Gaber W. B. Applegate


heart rate variability, power spectral analysis, sudden cardiac death, symptomatology, transplant, kidney, kidney-pancreas


Renal disease and diabetes lead to dysautonomia resulting in consequences ranging from gastroparesis to sudden death. New technologies to detect dysautonomia, such as 24-hr heart rate variability, are being evaluated and compared to traditional evoked tests. These advances have, however, lead to a lack of standardization in testing batteries, procedures, and reporting formats. This series of 3 studies psychometrically assessed measures of autonomic function (AF) and explored relationships among objective and subjective measures in healthy adults and uremic patients. Participants underwent evoked tests that included change in heart rate with deep breathing and Valsalva. In addition, measures of 24-hr HRV (time-domain: SDNN, SDANN, RMSSD; frequency-domain: total power, low and high frequency) and symptomatology were obtained.

Study 1 examined the development and psychometric testing of the Autonomic Symptom Checklist (ASC), an instrument designed to assess autonomic symptomatology, with uremic patients (n=244) and healthy adults (n=34). Findings showed the ASC was able to differentiate among healthy and uremic patients with and without diabetes. Test-retest reliability was moderate to high for most categories.

Study 2 established normal, borderline, and abnormal AF values and determined if these values could distinguish healthy (n=158) from uremic adults (n=363). Abnormal values were established at the 2.3 quantile of healthy adults. Uremic patients, especially those with diabetes, had much poorer values than healthy adults. The influence of age and gender on AF measures was attenuated in uremic as compared to healthy adults.

Study 3 examined relationships among and the clinical utility of evoked tests, 24- hr HRV, and the ASC. Data were obtained from pre (n=130) and post (n=55) kidney and kidney-pancreas transplant recipients (n=130), and healthy adults (n=22). The frequency of abnormal values was used to identify the most sensitive measure. Measures of 24-hr HRV were more sensitive than evoked measures, with frequency measures being most sensitive.

In conclusion, this series of studies established reliability and validity for the ASC, referent values for AF tests, devised a scoring system for AF tests, and found 24-hr HRV measures more sensitive than evoked measures.




Two year embargo expired June 2000