Objective To determine whether older primary care patients with a Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) have lower heart rate variability (HRV) compared to non-depressed patients. HRV is a measure of cardiac autonomic functioning. Method A cross-sectional comparison of 136 elderly persons with MDD and 136 non-depressed controls (matched forage and gender) recruited in family practices in the Netherlands. Depression was determined according to the DSM-IV criteria using the PRIME-MD. HRV was measured with an electrocardiogram (ECG) during a 5-minute supine rest. Results Multivariate analyses showed statistically significant decrease in HRV in MDD patients compared with controls. Conclusion Older primary care patients with MDD have a reduced HRV. This may explain why depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and mortality.
van der Kooy, K. G., Hout, H. P., Van Marwijk, H. W. J., de Haan, M., Stehouwer, C. D. A., & Beekman, A. T. (2006). Differences in heart rate variability between depressed and non-depressed elderly. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 21, 147-50. https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.1439