Autonomic nervous system activity can be checked by heart rate variability (HRV), method that quantifies and thus infers on cardiac autonomic modulation, reflecting the functioning of the autonomic nervous system. During the neonatal period significant differences as regards the autonomic maturation, are described in various species. Although the sheep come being used as experimental model of several protocols in neonatology and cardiology in humans, descriptive studies about the VFC using healthy animals and not sedated are scarce in the literature. The objective of this study was to describe the HRV in the Bergamasca race lambs during the first 35 days of age. Electrocardiographic examinations were performed in 20 lambs of the Bergamasca race from birth, in the7th, 14th, 21st, 28th, and 35th days of age. The HRV was analyzed by normal RR interval (sinus rate), heart rate, index of vagal tone, and the cardiovascular manifestations (square root of the average of the square of the differences between normal RR intervals adjacent). All parameters have changed over the weeks. The average heart rate increased between the birth and the first seven days of age, with decrease in the subsequent four weeks, being the smallest value found at 35 days of age (145.63±37.80bpm). Between 21, 28 and 35 days of age, the iTVV increased significantly, the RMSM from the 28 day, and 35 days, the cardiovascular manifestations, reflex parasympathetic activation, exhibited differences in relation to subsequent times. The beginning of parasympathetic dominance, reflected in the HRV indices, particularly the iTVV, occurs at 21 days of age. From the 35 days of age, the RMSM indices and RMSSD can be used as reliable markers of change in sympathetic and parasympathetic effect on the heart of lambs.
ovine; heart rate; neonate; autonomic control