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Heart rate variability measurement and clinical depression in acute coronary syndrome patients: narrative review of recent literature

Authors Harris P, Sommargren C, Stein P, Fung G, Drew B

Received 13 November 2013

Accepted for publication 8 January 2014

Published 18 July 2014 Volume 2014:10 Pages 1335—1347


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Patricia RE Harris,1 Claire E Sommargren,2 Phyllis K Stein,3 Gordon L Fung,4,5 Barbara J Drew6,7

1ECG Monitoring Research Lab, 2Department of Physiological Nursing, School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA; 3Heart Rate Variability Laboratory, School of Medicine, Washington University, St Louis, MO, USA; 4Asian Heart & Vascular Center at Mount Zion, Division of Cardiology, University of California, 5Cardiology Consultation Service, Cardiac Noninvasive Laboratory, and The Enhanced External Counterpulsation Unit, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, 6Division of Cardiology, 7Department of Physiological Nursing, School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA

Aim: We aimed to explore links between heart rate variability (HRV) and clinical depression in patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS), through a review of recent clinical research literature.
Background: Patients with ACS are at risk for both cardiac autonomic dysfunction and clinical depression. Both conditions can negatively impact the ability to recover from an acute physiological insult, such as unstable angina or myocardial infarction, increasing the risk for adverse cardiovascular outcomes. HRV is recognized as a reflection of autonomic function.
Methods: A narrative review was undertaken to evaluate state-of-the-art clinical research, using the PubMed database, January 2013. The search terms “heart rate variability” and “depression” were used in conjunction with “acute coronary syndrome”, “unstable angina”, or “myocardial infarction” to find clinical studies published within the past 10 years related to HRV and clinical depression, in patients with an ACS episode. Studies were included if HRV measurement and depression screening were undertaken during an ACS hospitalization or within 2 months of hospital discharge.
Results: Nine clinical studies met the inclusion criteria. The studies' results indicate that there may be a relationship between abnormal HRV and clinical depression when assessed early after an ACS event, offering the possibility that these risk factors play a modest role in patient outcomes.
Conclusion: While a definitive conclusion about the relevance of HRV and clinical depression measurement in ACS patients would be premature, the literature suggests that these measures may provide additional information in risk assessment. Potential avenues for further research are proposed.

Keywords: autonomic nervous system, depressive disorder, outcomes research, risk assessment

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