The Influence of Negative Mood on Heart Rate Complexity Measures and Baroreflex Sensitivity in Healthy Subjects

By Kobele, Ralf; Koschke, Mandy et al. | Indian Journal of Psychiatry, January-March 2010 | Go to article overview

The Influence of Negative Mood on Heart Rate Complexity Measures and Baroreflex Sensitivity in Healthy Subjects


Kobele, Ralf, Koschke, Mandy, Schulz, Steffen, Wagner, Gerd, Yeragani, Shravya, Ramachandraiah, Chaitra, Voss, Andreas, Yeragani, Vikram, Bar, Karl-Jurgen, Indian Journal of Psychiatry


Byline: Ralf. Kobele, Mandy. Koschke, Steffen. Schulz, Gerd. Wagner, Shravya. Yeragani, Chaitra. Ramachandraiah, Andreas. Voss, Vikram. Yeragani, Karl-Jurgen. Bar

Background: Decreased cardiac vagal function is linked with increased cardiac mortality and depression is associated with decreased heart rate variability. We have previously shown that the Mood Induction Procedure (MIP) in healthy subjects alters pain perception and thalamic activity during pain perception. Aim: To study the effect of negative emotion on heart rate variability and complexity measures as well as on baroreceptor sensitivity, as these parameters reflect cardiac autonomic function. Patients and Methods: We studied 20 healthy female controls before and after neutral MIP and 20 healthy female subjects before and after negative MIP. We investigated measures of valence of mood, heart rate variability and complexity and the baroreceptor sensitivity index. Results: While there was a significant difference in the valence of mood between the neutral and the negative effect condition, there were no significant differences in any of the heart rate or baroreceptor sensitivity measures between the two groups. Conclusions: Our findings did not show any significant influence of acute negative MIP on heart rate variability and complexity measures and baroreceptor sensitivity, even though depressive disorder and stress are associated with decreased heart rate variability. These findings are discussed in the context of clinical depression and anxiety and the increased risk for cardiac mortality. In contrast to the presented results here, we have previously shown that MIP in healthy subjects alters pain perception and thalamic activity.

Introduction

Emotions have diverse effects on autonomic nervous function as illustrated by symptoms such as palpitations and hyperventilation.[sup] [1] It is well documented that emotional processes result in changes in heart rate (HR), heart rate variability (HRV) and contractility. Heart rate variability and complexity are useful noninvasive techniques to assess the vagal component of cardiac autonomic function in response to emotional changes. Dishman and colleagues[sup] [2] have shown reduced cardiac vagal function among men and women who perceived more stress in the week before the assessment. Moreover, reducing the perceived stress by attending to an emotionally self-management training program increases vagal tone.[sup] [3] Similarly, anxiety is often accompanied by somatic manifestations that suggest marked changes in autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity. Reduced HRV has been demonstrated in subjects with various anxiety disorders including patients suffering from panic disorder. [sup][4] This is also true of patients suffering from depression.[sup] [5] This is especially important due to the high incidence of sudden unexplained cardiac death in patients with anxiety as well as depression. [sup][6],[7] The underlying mechanisms for cardiac vulnerability in depression remain unclear. An altered autonomic neuro-cardiac regulation might be one important pathophysiological factor.[sup] [8],[9] However, conflicting results were reported in studies that used HRV[sup] [10],[11],[12],[13] and complexity measures.[sup] [5] Baroreflex sensitivity (BRS) and blood pressure variability have also been shown to be decreased in patients with depression,[sup] [14],[15] thus suggesting decreased parasympathetic function in the disease.

Negative affect is an important symptom of anxiety as well as depression. To elucidate the influence of mood on cardiac autonomic function, we assessed parameters of HRV and complexity in healthy subjects before and after negative mood induction and in a control condition.

Patients and Methods

Subjects We investigated 40 female students in this study. Twenty students (age: 24.5 [+ or -] 5.1 years) participated in the negative mood induction protocol and the others (age: 25. …

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