Cardiac rhythms in developing emu hatchlings.

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Six emu hatchlings were non-invasively measured for electrocardiogram (ECG) from their chest wall using flexible electrodes, and the instantaneous heart rate (IHR) was determined from ECG throughout the first week of post-hatching life. Although the baseline heart rate (HR) was low, approximately 100-200 beats per min (bpm), compared with chick hatchlings, the IHR fluctuated markedly. The fluctuation of IHR comprised HR variability and irregularities that were designated as types I, II and III in chick hatchlings and additional large accelerations distinctive of emu hatchlings. Type I was HR oscillation with a mean frequency of 0.37 Hz (range 0.2-0.7 Hz), i.e. respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). From RSA, breathing frequency in emu hatchlings was estimated to be approximately half of that in chickens. Type II HR oscillation was also found in the emu; the frequency ranged from approximately 0.04 to 0.1 with a mean of 0.06 Hz, and the magnitude tended to be large compared with that of chickens. In addition to type III HRI, which was designated in chickens, large, irregular HR accelerations were characteristic of emu hatchlings. From IHR data, developmental patterns of mean heart rate (MHR) were constructed and plotted on a single graph to inspect the diurnal rhythm of MHR by visual inspection and power spectrum analysis. A circadian rhythm was not clear in the emu hatchlings, in contrast to chick hatchlings, which showed a dominant diurnal rhythm.


Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2002 Apr;131(4):787-95.