Title

A Greater Reduction in High-Frequency Heart Rate Variability to a Psychological Stressor is Associated with Subclinical Coronary and Aortic Calcification in Postmenopausal Women

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2005

Keywords

aorta, atherosclerosis, coronary, calcification, electron beam tomography, heart rate variability, parasympathetic, stress

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.1097/01.psy.0000170335.92770.7a

Abstract

Objective: Reduced cardiac parasympathetic activity, as indicated by a reduced level of clinic or ambulatory high-frequency heart rate variability (HF-HRV), is associated with an increased risk for atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. We tested whether the reduction in HF-HRV to a psychological stressor relative to a baseline level is also associated with subclinical coronary or aortic atherosclerosis, as assessed by calcification in these vascular regions. Method Spectral estimates of 0.15 to 0.40 Hz HF-HRV were obtained from 94 postmenopausal women (61–69 years) who engaged in a 3-minute speech-preparation stressor after a 6-minute resting baseline. A median of 282 days later, electron beam tomography (EBT) was used to measure the extent of coronary and aortic calcification. Results In univariate analyses, a greater reduction in HF-HRV from baseline to speech preparation was associated with having more extensive calcification in the coronary arteries (rho = −0.29, p = .03) and in the aorta (rho = −0.22, p = .06). In multivariate analyses that controlled for age, education level, smoking status, hormone therapy use, fasting glucose, high-density lipoproteins, baseline HF-HRV, and the stressor-induced change in respiration rate, a greater stressor-induced reduction in HF-HRV was associated with more calcification in the coronary arteries (B = −1.21, p < .05), and it was marginally associated with more calcification in the aorta (B = −0.92, p = .09). Conclusion In postmenopausal women, a greater reduction in cardiac parasympathetic activity to a psychological stressor from baseline may be an independent correlate of subclinical atherosclerosis, particularly in the coronary arteries.

Was this content written or created while at USF?

Yes

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Psychosomatic Medicine, v. 67, issue 4, p. 553-560.

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