Exploring the relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and momentary heart rate variability.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

OBJECTIVE: Exposure to trauma-related cues has been associated with a prolonged decrease in heart rate variability (HRV) under laboratory conditions, however the relationship between PTSD symptoms and HRV has not been evaluated during everyday life. The present study sought to determine whether Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms reported during everyday life were related to reduced HRV. METHODOLOGY: Eighty-three young adults with PTSD underwent 24-hour Holter monitoring, during which PTSD symptoms were measured using ecological momentary assessment (EMA). Multilevel modeling was used to examine the association between PTSD symptom severity and low frequency (LF) and high frequency (HF) HRV. RESULTS: PTSD symptoms were associated with reductions in LF HRV, independently of age and activity level. There was no significant association between PTSD symptom levels and HF HRV. CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that an association between momentary PTSD symptom severity and reduced LF HRV is significant and observable in young adults with PTSD. Findings highlight the need for cardiovascular screening in young adults with PTSD and early interventions that target physiological reactivity in PTSD.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Green, KT; Dennis, PA; Neal, LC; Hobkirk, AL; Hicks, TA; Watkins, LL; Hayano, J; Sherwood, A; Calhoun, PS; Beckham, JC

Published Date

  • March 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 82 /

Start / End Page

  • 31 - 34

PubMed ID

  • 26944396

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4779501

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-1360

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2016.01.003


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England