Heart rate response to therapeutic hypothermia in infants with hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy

Maja Elstad, Xun Liu, Marianne Thoresen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
364 Downloads (Pure)


Aim of the study

Neonatal encephalopathy (NE) of hypoxic-ischaemic origin may cause death or life-long disability which is reduced by therapeutic hypothermia (TH). Our objective was to assess HR response in infants undergoing TH after perinatal asphyxia.


We performed a retrospective case series, from a single-centre tertiary care NICU. We included ninety-two infants with NE of likely hypoxic-ischaemic origin, moderate or severe, treated with TH (n = 60) or normothermia (n = 32) who had 18 month outcome data and at least 12 HR recordings the first 24 h after birth (1998–2010) Bristol, UK. Poor outcome was defined as death or severe disability. Data are reported as medians and 95% confidence intervals (CI).


TH to 33.5 °C decreased HR by 30 bpm to 92 bpm (95% CI: 88,96) 12 h after birth in infants with NE and good outcome as compared to infants treated at normothermia 118 bpm (95% CI: 110,130). Despite constant low rectal temperature, HR increased gradually during cooling from 36 to 72 h to 97 bpm (89,106) approaching the normothermia group, 117 bpm (96,133). During TH, infants with poor outcome had higher HR at 12 h after birth (112 bpm, 95%CI: 92,115) as compared to infants with good outcome (p = 0.004). Inotropic support increased HR by 17 bpm in infants with good outcome and by 22 bpm in infants with poor outcome.


In NE, TH decreases HR the first day of life. HR remained lower during TH, but increased during the last day of TH. Infants with poor outcome have higher HR.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-57
Number of pages5
Early online date28 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


  • Hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy
  • Neonatal encephalopathy
  • Heart rate
  • Inotropic support
  • Therapeutic hypothermia


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