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A study of the 24-h heart rate variability's (HRV) hidden dynamic is performed hour by hour, in order to investigate the evolution of the nonlinear structure of the underlying nervous system. A hierarchy of null hypotheses of nonlinear Markov models with increasing order n is tested against the hidden dynamic of the HRV time series. The minimum accepted Markov order supplies information about the nonlinearity of the HRV's hidden dynamic and consequently of the underlying nervous system. The Markov model with minimum order is detected for each hour of the RR time series extracted from seven 24-h electrocardiogram records of patients in different patho-physiological conditions, some including ventricular tachycardia episodes. Heart rate, pNN30, and LF/HF index plots are reported to serve as a reference for the description of the patient's cardiovascular frame during each examined hour. The minimum Markov order shows to be a promising index for quantifying the average nonlinearity of the autonomic nervous system's activity.