Abstract 14660: Early Bereavement is Associated with Increased Heart Rate and Reduced Heart Rate Variability
Background: Bereavement, particularly during the early weeks, is associated with increased cardiovascular (CV) events, however the mechanism has not been well studied.
Purpose: We assessed the hypothesis that bereavement would be associated with increased heart rate (HR) and decreased measures of heart rate variability (HRV), previously associated with increased CV risk.
Methods: Seventy-eight bereaved spouses and parents (55F/23M; aged 65.0 yrs (range 33-91) were studied within 2 weeks of bereavement (acute) and at 6 months, and compared to a non-bereaved reference group (52F/27M; age 63.5 yrs (34-87). All participants were in sinus rhythm. Holter monitoring was conducted for 24-hours using Medtel monitors and analysed with Medilog Prima 3. Symptoms of depression and anxiety were measured using the Centre for Epidemiological Studies-Depression (CES-D) and Spielberger State Anxiety scales. HRV measures included: mean of the SD of all RR intervals for all 5 minute segments (SDNNi), % of differences between adjacent RR intervals >50msec (pNN50), Low frequency (LF) and high frequency (HF) power bands.
Results: In summary, acute bereavement is associated with increased heart rate, lower HRV (SDNNi, PNN50, LF & HF power), and higher supraventricular activity (SVT). By 6 months, heart rate lowered, HRV measures increased (SDNNi, PNN50, HF & LF) and bereaved had less SVT compared to early levels. Similar differences were observed after excluding participants taking heart rate lowering medications.
Conclusion: This study, which is the first to focus on CV risk in early bereavement, demonstrates HR and HRV changes that may contribute to the increased reported CV events in early bereavement.
- © 2010 by American Heart Association, Inc.