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Tetanus is a disease associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Heart rate variability (HRV) is an objective clinical marker with potential value in tetanus. This study aimed to investigate the use of wearable devices to collect HRV data and the relationship between HRV and tetanus severity. Data were collected from 110 patients admitted to the intensive care unit in a tertiary hospital in Vietnam. HRV indices were calculated from 5-minute segments of 24-hour electrocardiogram recordings collected using wearable devices. HRV was found to be inversely related to disease severity. The standard deviation of NN intervals and interquartile range of RR intervals (IRRR) were significantly associated with the presence of muscle spasms; low frequency (LF) and high frequency (HF) indices were significantly associated with severe respiratory compromise; and the standard deviation of differences between adjacent NN intervals, root mean square of successive differences between normal heartbeats, LF to HF ratio, total frequency power, and IRRR, were significantly associated with autonomic nervous system dysfunction. The findings support the potential value of HRV as a marker for tetanus severity, identifying specific indices associated with clinical severity thresholds. Data were recorded using wearable devices, demonstrating this approach in resource-limited settings where most tetanus occurs.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Trop Med Hyg

Publication Date





165 - 169


Humans, Heart Rate, Tetanus, Electrocardiography, Ambulatory, Patient Acuity, Wearable Electronic Devices