Original Article

Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 115-123

Marital Status and Heart Rate Variability in Patients with Suspected Coronary Artery Disease

  • Gemma RandallAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London Email author 
  • , Mimi R. BhattacharyyaAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London
  • , Andrew SteptoeAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London

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Abstract

Background

Married individuals are at reduced risk of cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. Recent research indicates that impaired heart rate variability (HRV) may contribute to cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality and has also been associated with social isolation.

Purpose

We investigated associations between HRV and marital status in patients with suspected coronary artery disease (CAD).

Methods

Eighty-eight patients who were being investigated for suspected CAD (28 women, 60 men, mean age 61.6, 60% married) were recruited from three rapid access chest pain clinics in London. Heart rate variability was measured using 24-h electrocardiograms and analyzed using frequency and time-domain measures.

Results

Unmarried marital status was associated with reduced heart rate variability as indexed by both frequency and time-domain measures, independently of age, gender, beta-blocker use, depression ratings, and subsequent diagnosis of significant CAD.

Conclusion

These findings suggest that reduced heart rate variability is associated with not being married and may contribute to the reliably observed relationship between marital status and cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality.

Keywords

Marital status Heart rate variability Cardiovascular disease Social support