Chronotropic incompetence--Part I: Normal regulation of the heart rate.


Knowledge of normal adjustment of heart rate and its response to exercise is essential for understanding and management of chronotropic incompetence. The autonomic nervous system plays an important role in the modulation of normal heart rate. Chronotropic responses of a normal heart to exercise are associated with parallel hemodynamic changes in order to meet the metabolic demand of the body. Determination of chronotropic incompetence is widely based on the assessment of maximal heart rate. However, maximal effort should always be confirmed before an attempt to measure a maximal heart rate is made.


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