Posttraumatic stress disorder is associated with attenuated baroreceptor sensitivity among female, but not male, smokers.
BACKGROUND: The relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) functioning was investigated using baroreflex sensitivity (BRS). We hypothesized that individuals with PTSD would exhibit lower BRS than those without PTSD. METHODS: Participants were 80 PTSD patients and 50 controls aged 18-68 years. All participants were smokers, many were veterans (55%), and 60 were women. Beat-to-beat BP was collected during a 5-min baseline rest periods from which estimates of BRS were derived using the sequence method. RESULTS: Women with PTSD exhibited lower BRS (M = 10.5, S.D. = 5.1) than women without PTSD (M = 14.6, S.D. = 10.7). For men, PTSD diagnosis was not associated with BRS, p > .05. CONCLUSIONS: Among women, PTSD was associated with reduced PNS functioning. Men with PTSD did not have attenuated BRS, which may be due to sample characteristics, such as age and combat veteran status. Reduced PNS activity may predispose women with PTSD to poorer cardiovascular health.
Hughes, JW; Feldman, ME; Beckham, JC
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